- Download our Moving to Oman Guide (PDF)
To match the demand for housing, Oman is under constant residential development, especially around large cities. Expats looking for accommodation in Oman will have a variety of options to choose from.
Most expats in Oman live in the capital city, Muscat, and the towns that encompass the capital region, including Ruwi, Muttrah and Qurum.
Types of accommodation in Oman
Expats mainly find accommodation in Oman in the form of apartments and standalone villas or townhouses, often within a secure housing compound. Most homes are new and well maintained, although there have been complaints of poor construction standards and negligent landlords.
New arrivals will be glad to know that many apartment blocks and compounds include gyms, a swimming pool and laundry facilities. Those in villas can also expect a garden and can easily find domestic help. The main thing to look out for is air-conditioning – this is a lifesaver in the arid heat.
Whichever area one chooses to live in a major city, restaurants and shops won’t be far off, as well as schools and other amenities, such as tennis courts and golf courses, to suit all needs and lifestyles.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Accommodation for expats in Oman is largely unfurnished, although furnished options are also available. Costs vary according to the size, facilities and area of a property. Furnished accommodation generally includes everything from appliances to beds, linen and cutlery, which makes the move to Oman fairly simple for expats.
Due to the proliferation of companies such as Airbnb and the growing Omani government investment in tourism, short lets have become popular in the country. While short-term rentals are excellent for allowing expats an opportunity to get to know the different areas and suburbs of Oman before committing to a long-term lease, they can be pricey, particularly in popular expat areas. Still, they are typically fully furnished and include utilities in the quoted rental cost, making them a great option for expats who will only be in the country short-term.
Finding accommodation in Oman
Much to their relief, many expats working in Oman find that their employers provide accommodation or include a housing allowance as part of the employment package for their foreign workers. We recommend that expats factor this into their contract negotiations.
A safer option is to use the services of a relocation company and real estate agent such as Savills Oman, who will be able to speak the language and understand the local nuances of the Oman property market.
- There are several online property portals to choose from, such as Dubizzle Oman and OpenSooq.
- Community of Expats in Oman is a social media group where expats share property listings and resources across the country.
Renting accommodation in Oman
Most expats rent accommodation in Oman as they plan to stay short term. While rental fees in many countries are paid monthly, in Oman advance lump sums are often expected.
Both short- and long-term leases are available. Long-term leases are usually a year to two years in Oman but can extend to over seven years, while short-term lease lengths are variable.
It is essential to register all leases with the municipality or Ministry of Housing. When going through an estate agent, they arrange this matter. There is a fee for this, which depends on the type of lease. Details of the tenant including their residency and work permits may be needed, otherwise, the expat’s employing company will organise this.
Registering leases in Oman ensures that tenants and landlords have their rights firmly agreed, and if both parties wish to renew their contract, this can be done online.
A deposit is generally one to two months' rent. While the landlord could be responsible for major repairs, the tenant is liable for any damage done, and this may come out of the deposit.
Termination of the lease
Expats who have signed a long-term lease must give at least three months' notice before terminating the rental agreement. Those who have leases that are three months or less must give half of the rental contract period as notice.
New arrivals to Oman are encouraged to take full inventory of the apartment with their landlord before and after moving in to ensure they are not charged unfairly for normal wear and tear. If the landlord finds damage that was caused by the tenant, they are entitled to keep a portion of the deposit to fix the damage. Otherwise, landlords must return the full deposit within seven days after the tenant moves out.
- The Muscat Municipality website is a good place to start to learn more about registering leases in Oman.
Utilities such as water, gas and electricity are generally excluded from the quoted rental price. We urge that expats read the rental agreement carefully, as this will outline what costs the tenant and landlord are responsible for. All utility bills in Oman are paid through the Oman Investment and Finance Company (OFIC), regardless of what municipality expats live in.
Electricity and gas
Electricity in Oman is supplied by the Nama Electricity Distribution Company. Expats can have their electricity contract in their name and disconnect the service when moving to a new apartment. To change the ownership of an account, new arrivals must submit their identity document, resident card, proof of property ownership, proof of area map and the last bill paid at their nearest Nama office or on the company's website.
Mains gas is not common in Oman, so most households use bottled gas. This is typically delivered door-to-door to people's homes.
Operated under Nama, Oman Water and Wastewater Services Company manages the water supply in Oman. Similar to electricity, expats need only submit identity documentation, the last bill paid and proof of property ownership from the landlord at their nearest Oman Water and Wastewater Services Company office.
Expats will be charged a small reconnection fee, and they are encouraged to disconnect the service when they move out to avoid unnecessary charges. To check their bills, they can simply use the company's website to insert their current water reading and get an estimate.
Bins and recycling
Waste management and collection in Oman is handled at municipal level. Most of the waste in Oman is sent to landfills, but the country is making strides in developing its recycling capabilities. Oman is home to 67 recycling facilities, where residents can take their sorted recyclable waste for recycling.
The country is also developing a coordinated recycling programme for its residents. This will include building engineering landfill sites, waste transfer stations and waste-to-energy projects across the country
Oman is home to many modern connectivity options, including fibre optic, wireless and cable. Internet service providers (ISPS) offer reliable connections across the country. Some have combo options that enable users to integrate their phone, internet and cable connections, this often works out to be the most affordable option.
- For more on connecting and disconnecting electricity services in Oman, see Nama Electricity Distribution Company.
- Visit Oman Water and Wastewater Services Company's website to learn more about paying water bills and getting bill estimated.
- For more on waste management in Oman, visit state-owned company, Be'ah's website.
- Omantel, Vodafone Oman and M247 are among the most popular ISPs in the country.
What do expats say about housing standards in Oman?
"The building style in Oman is mainly villas or apartments, and you can choose according to your taste of style and affordability." Read our interview with Caroline for more on finding a place to stay in Oman.
"Accommodation ranges from great to awful, it just depends whether you get a nice or a bad landlord." Get some personal insights on housing in Oman in our interview with OB.
►For a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for basic goods and services, including average rental costs, see Cost of Living in Oman
Photo credits: Oman Skyline by Muhammad Shoaib from Unsplash
Are you an expat living in Oman?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Oman. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance. 20% off premiums booked before 31st March
Medical insurance specifically designed for expats. With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider.
International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.