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, but on the contrary, it’s actually one of the more affordable Gulf region destinations. Prices have remained fairly steady, even amidst the word economic downturn and ensuing recovery. 

Most of the population lives in and around Doha City, and discussions about living costs in Qatar are often very similar to talking about the cost of living in Doha.

Cost of accommodation in Doha

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

A single family home or apartment in an expat area can range from 15,000 QAR per month and upward. Rent often includes access to communal areas, such as a gym, pool, and even mini markets and nurseries.

Similarly, rent for a standard family-sized villa (with five bedrooms and a maid’s quarters) in an expat area can start at 25,000 QAR per month. 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 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 specialty 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 (usually between three and five). 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, ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 QAR and up, depending on the child's age and if they are to be involved in after-school or extra-curricular activities.

Nurseries also enjoy a brisk business in Qatar, and can be as much as 2,800 QAR a month for five days a week (with prices increasing if a parent also wants extra care after the normal hours).

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; health cards only cost 100 QAR and include coverage for a year. Emergency services are free, while visits to the government clinics without a health card are 30 QAR.

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, including Al Ahli, Al Emadi and Doha Clinic, 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 from 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. A consultation in family medicine at a private hospital, for example, can run from 100 to 300 QR for a visit. 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

Karwa bus, arguably the main mode of public transport in DohaQatar 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, like Fox Transport, which can cost 35 QAR for a one day hire, and about the same for an hour of waiting. The meter taxis, Karwa, are also available and charge a tariff of around 30 QAR if leaving from the airport; otherwise, the starting rate is about 10 QAR, with fixed prices on the meter. 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, as there is no school bus system.

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. An average comprehensive insurance package is 2,800 QAR for a mid-line SUV (Honda or similar), and can go upwards of 4,500 QAR depending on the driver’s record.

Cost of living in Doha chart (2016)

Accommodation per month
One-bedroom apartment in city centre QAR 6,800
One-bedroom apartment outside city centre QAR 5,500
Three-bedroom apartment in city centre QAR 15,000
Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre QAR 9,800
Dozen eggs QAR 9
Milk (1 litre) QAR 7
Rice (1 kg) QAR 8.50
Loaf of white bread QAR 3.50
Two whole frozen chickens (1.2 kg) QAR 30
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) QAR 10

Eating out

Big Mac meal QAR 20 
Large Coca Cola  (2.5 litre bottle) QAR 6
Cappuccino  QAR 18
Bottle of beer (local) QAR 12
Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant QAR 250

Utilities/household (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) QAR 0.78
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)  QAR 420
Basic utilities (Average per month for standard household) QAR 480


Taxi rate/km QAR 3.45
Bus fare in the city centre  QAR 12
Petrol/Gasoline QAR 1.50

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