With one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, it’s expected that Doha’s cost of living might be quite high. On the contrary, it’s one of the more affordable Gulf-region destinations. The 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Index ranks Doha 126th out of 227 cities surveyed and shows that prices are competitive even among major world cities.

With tax-free incentives, the cost of living in Qatar’s capital city can be quite attractive, but all this depends on the expat’s employment package, their lifestyle choices and how they choose to spend their money.

Cost of accommodation in Doha

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

Within expat compounds, rent often includes access to communal areas, such as a gym, pool and even mini-markets and nurseries. The prices of stand-alone villas are set by the landlord 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 areas in Doha where expats can own property. Among the most popular is the Pearl development project, a mix of commercial, retail and residential space (that includes apartments and villas) built on reclaimed land. Buying property is expensive and complicated, so most expats prefer to rent.

Cost of transport in Doha

Doha has been upgrading its transport network recently and has well-established and maintained bus routes powered by Mowasalat. Buses, along with the new metro system, are a great and affordable way of getting around in Doha. The city's local government also has plans to develop an integrated rail structure. Avoiding traffic by taking the metro also saves time.

Taxis, both private and public, are widespread. Public taxis are metered and while options such as Uber are also available, the costs do not differ significantly. It's best to book a taxi in advance, during peak traffic hours.

Quality used cars tend to have a high resale value in Qatar, and online platforms such as Qatar Living are updated regularly for more information on this. 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. Comprehensive insurance is required for those who own new cars until the loan is paid off. In some cases, employment contracts may cover travel expenses, including initial flight tickets and even a car.

Cost of groceries in Doha

Qatar relies heavily on imports for nearly everything, from fruit and vegetables to meat and other goods, therefore, food prices in Doha are high. Buying local will always save a buck or two, but buying the brand names that expats recognise from home will cost a pretty penny. It’s best to shop around for certain items, as they vary by several riyals depending on the outlet.

There is a range of grocery stores, from the bargain favourite Carrefour to the pricier Mega Mart, which tends to feature international brands and speciality items, such as organically farmed eggs. There are also many neighbourhood shops and local establishments, such as Food World, Family Food Center, Al Meera, Lulu Hypermarket and Qmart.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Doha

Eating out and entertainment in Doha can be expensive for expats compared to their home countries. Doha is known for its high-end dining options and luxury leisure activities, which come at a premium. However, more affordable options are also available for those looking to save money.

In terms of entertainment, expats can expect to find a diverse range of options, including cinemas, shopping centres, museums and theme parks. There is also a lively nightlife scene, with many bars, clubs and lounges offering a variety of music and entertainment options.

Cost of education in Doha

Some employee packages include schooling for children; many have a maximum number of children they will fund. Some policies afford school compensation for children from three years of age and others only from 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 remember that tuition at international schools is expensive and can increase depending on the child’s age and if they are to be involved in after-school or extracurricular activities.

The best schools and nurseries often have long waiting lists, so if expats are trying to decide between two schools or have 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 provides free healthcare to citizens and residents. To use these services, expats need to obtain a health card from the employer’s Human Resources office or via the hospital system. Emergency services are free, while visits to government clinics without a health card will incur a fee.

Expats should note that because everyone in the country has access to these services, lines can be agonisingly long and the appointment system is not as punctual as in other countries.

There are a variety of private hospitals in Doha that offer excellent outpatient and surgical care, and many expats have insurance policies included in their employment packages 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 directly from one of the private hospitals.

Expats can also pay in cash for services used, or obtain a similar policy via Qatar Insurance or similar companies in the city. That said, most complicated procedures and oncology are dealt with at Hamad. If an expat does choose one of the other hospitals, a serious condition will likely mean a referral to specialists at Hamad, in which case a health card is essential.

Cost of living in Qatar chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Doha in March 2024.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreQAR 11,000
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreQAR 7,200
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreQAR 6,100
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreQAR 3,800
Food and drink
Dozen eggsQAR 13
Milk (1 litre)QAR 7
Rice (1kg)QAR 7.22
Loaf of white breadQAR 5.58
Chicken breasts (1kg)QAR 13
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)QAR 21
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantQAR 200
Big Mac MealQAR 25
Coca-Cola (330ml)QAR 3.36
CappuccinoQAR 20.61
Bottle of beer (local)QAR 7
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)QAR 0.87
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)QAR 320
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)QAR 960
Taxi rate/kmQAR 9
City-centre public transport fareQAR 2
Gasoline (per litre)QAR 2.12

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