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Expats looking for accommodation in Bahrain will almost certainly find bigger and better property options available to them than back home. Regardless of whether expats prefer a modern apartment in a lofty high-rise, an expansive villa outside of the city centre, or a cookie-cutter home in a safe and secure expat compound, there are options to satisfy all tastes and budgets.
The first factor to consider is the location of a property. Expats will need to decide whether they want to be in the city centre of Manama or farther out in the suburbs. Though the difference is a mere 10- to 30-minute commute, the type of accommodation available differs according to area.
Expats with families who want larger properties are more likely to find these outside the city centre. They will also need to consider proximity to good international schools.
Types of accommodation in Bahrain
Expat compounds are a popular option for foreigners. The insular community, added security, access to amenities and the spirit of camaraderie are all major drawcards for those who choose to live in these compounds.
Furnished, unfurnished and semi-furnished homes are all available in Bahrain. Semi-furnished accommodation generally includes the provision of kitchen appliances, air conditioners and curtains, while unfurnished often means completely bare. Fully furnished accommodation in Bahrain comes comprehensively equipped and, in many cases, stylishly decorated.
There's no shortage of good furniture stores in Bahrain, and artisans and craftsmen can also be commissioned to make some truly unique fittings and innovative household goods. As a result, many expats choose the semi-furnished or unfurnished route.
Finding accommodation in Bahrain
Many expats relocating to Bahrain have accommodation arranged through their employer. Those who are left to find a home in Bahrain on their own usually enlist the services of a real estate agent. These individuals are incredibly helpful and often go so far as to negotiate the lease once a property has been selected.
Expats often opt to take short-term housing immediately upon arrival while they use an agent to find a more permanent living option. Searching for accommodation online and in local newspapers may also yield results.
Renting accommodation in Bahrain
The process of renting a property in Bahrain is straightforward. In most cases, expats will either receive the support of their employer or an estate agent.
Most properties in Bahrain are furnished or semi-furnished. Villas tend to be semi-furnished. This typically includes large appliances like a fridge, washer and dryer, oven and sometimes curtains. Apartments are generally fully furnished, but it is possible to find unfurnished apartments. It's also possible to negotiate with the property owner to remove the furniture when renting long term.
Tenants will usually need to pay a security deposit upfront. This deposit typically equates to one month's rent. The amount is fully refundable depending on the state of the property at the end of the contract.
Rental contracts are available for various lengths of time, although most leases are signed for one year with the option to renew. Expats need to ensure that they are committed to living in the property for the complete period specified on the rental agreement as getting out of a contract prior to it expiring can be difficult.
If expats think there is a possibility that they may need to leave the island before the end of their lease, they should request a diplomatic clause to be included in the lease. This will mean that if they are required to leave the island, with the relevant paperwork, they can give one month's notice at any time during the lease.
The rent for a fully furnished accommodation often already includes municipality tax, electricity and water. In some cases, rent can also include luxuries like internet, satellite television and housekeeping. On the other hand, semi-furnished accommodation usually excludes utility bills. Expats will need to make sure of what their rent includes before signing their lease.
►For information on how to get around the Kingdom, see Transport and Driving in Bahrain
"Juffair in the northeast of the main island is popular with Americans as it is close to the US Navy base. It’s mostly modern apartment blocks so also popular with other expats and Saudi visitors.
"Adlyia is where many of the restaurants are, this area and the adjoining suburbs of Mahooz and Umm Al Hassam are also popular with those who prefer to be in close proximity to nightlife.
"West of the city centre is Budaiya where many expat families live, usually in compound villas. I believe the schools in the area are good, and the Dilmun Club and the Bahrain Rugby club are both located here.
"Finally, there is Amwaj Islands in the Floating City. The villas here are very pretty and situated around a series of canals, so it’s trendy and popular; but there are few amenities other than the beach." Read Susie's Expat Arrivals interview to learn more about living in Bahrain.
Are you an expat living in Bahrain?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bahrain. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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