Cost of Life in Qatar: Further Expenses »» Are you thinking about accepting an expat assignment to Qatar, but are unsure whether the offered salary and benefits will cover your cost of living in Qatar ?
Read Inter Nations Guide on the cost of living in Qatar to get an overview over typical budget items and the expenses you can expect.
Groceries and Dining Out:
Since around 90% of Qatar’s foodstuff is imported, groceries or dining out can easily be more expensive than what you are used. However, in a comparison of 21 common food items and their costs, Qatar is actually the cheapest out of the six countries in the GCC.
You can expect to pay around QAR 30 for a meal in an inexpensive restaurant, while grocery costs are likely to range around QAR 800 a month.
The usual tip of avoiding imported items might not be particularly easy to follow while living in Qatar where, as already mentioned, most food is imported. However, you can still save money by cooking at home instead of regularly dining out.
Healthcare and Education:
Both citizens and residents in Qatar can get inexpensive public medical care once they are in possession of the so-called Health Card, which costs QAR 100.
This system of (mostly) free public healthcare is, however, struggling to cope with local demand.
While first steps towards a change in the public healthcare system have been taken, for now getting a private health insurance in order to pay for private medical care is an option that should at least be considered.
You may also want to talk to your employer about possible health insurance coverage as part of your expat benefits.
Expats moving to Qatar with their children will quickly discover that getting their kids into one of the international schools in the country can involve long waiting lists and high fees. Next to annual tuition fees that can easily range from QAR 25,000 to 62,000, expats with kids need to be prepared for additional fees for application, assessment and registration as well as a possible caution deposit.
Depending on where in Qatar you are living, getting around using public transport is not always an option, even if Doha is busily working on extending the local bus network as well as building a new metro system. Bus journeys are reasonably cheap, costing only a few Qatari Riyals per trip. Public cabs, so-called Karwa taxis, are another alternative with a basic starting fare of QAR 4 and an additional metered QAR 1.20 or QAR 1.80 per kilometer inside and outside Doha respectively.
However, both buses and the public taxi system are at times struggling to cope with the demands of a continuously growing population. Alternative, but also more costly, transportation options are private taxis and limousine services that you typically have to book in advance.
If you are planning on owning a car in Qatar, you’ll be glad to hear that petrol prices are extremely cheap even if actually driving in Qatar might not be for those faint of heart.
Importing your own car from abroad comes with a very high customs duty, making leasing or buying a car locally the more favorable option. If you chose to buy, don’t forget to factor in insurance costs and registration fees, though!