Your choice of accommodation is always a huge consideration when moving abroad. Expat housing in Qatar is hugely varied, and there really is something for everyone here. Despite initial predications that ret prices would soar in response to Qatar’s successful FIFA world cup bid, the price of accommodation has remained stable, and supply still meets demand. While this is great news for expats looking to move to Qatar, there are two main considerations which need to be pointed out before going any further.
The first is that the majority of expats moving to Qatar prefer to move to expat housing compounds. These are often included as part of your contract, simplifying the relocation process by moving to a location owned (or rented) by your employer. The second consideration is that whatever your choice of accommodation in Qatar, most landlords will expect your rent for the year up front – quite unlike what most expats are used to. While many landlords will accept a series of post-dated cheques, you can often negotiate a lower price if you can pay your entire year’s rent in one go up front.
Housing Compounds in Qatar
Many employers in Qatar offer housing in an expat compound as one of the pulling factors aimed at drawing in highly skilled expat workers. These compounds are highly sought after in the expat community, due to their 24 hour security and selection of amenities aimed at providing a comfortable life for the local expats.
These compounds can house anywhere from six to hundreds of families. The amenities you will find at each compound vary based on size, with the smallest compounds offering a swimming pool and gym facilities, and the largest compounds offering all this plus tennis courts, supermarkets and even restaurants. While these compounds often come fully furnished, you can usually request an unfurnished or semi-furnished apartment if you prefer.
It’s worth noting that while your employer may negotiate your rent on your behalf, it’s rare that your utilities are included in the cost. Since these compounds are usually quite modern, they usually come with air conditioning units, making life significantly more comfortable during the summer heat. Fortunately, due to government subsidisation helping expat workers coming into the country, the price of running these units, along with your other utilities, is often quite reasonable.
Villas and Apartments in Qatar
As popular as these compounds are with the expat community, they are not the be-all and end-all of expat housing in Qatar. Many expats choose to rent privately, and there are a huge number of villas and apartments available to expats across the country. Your choice of villa or apartment will vary depending on a number of things such as the size of the property you’re looking for, and your budget. While you may expect free-standing villas to be extremely expensive, the price of these has dropped in recent years due to the popularity of the expat compounds.
These apartments and villas come in varying degrees of fully furnished, semi-furnished or unfurnished. Either way, make sure that your new home comes with an air conditioning unit – the summer heat in Qatar frequently reaching the high 40’s or even 50°C. Installing an air conditioning unit yourself can be expensive, so make sure that if your prospective new home doesn’t come with a unit, your landlord fits (at least) one before you arrive.
Popular Expat Neighbourhoods in Doha
There are a number of cities in Qatar which are extremely popular with the country’s expat community, though none of them beat the capital, Doha. If you’re considering relocating to Doha and you don’t have the luxury of an employer organising your housing for you, it is highly advisable that you use a local estate agent to help you find the perfect house for you. Of course, here at Santa Fe we have a Home Search service which can help you get started in finding your new home in Qatar.
If you would like to know some of the most popular expat neighbourhoods in the city before you start looking, here are a couple that we would recommend:
Abu Hamour – an increasingly popular area thanks to the new compounds and standalone villas which are being built. Also known as Mamoura or Ain Khalid, Abu Hamour is slightly cheaper than other parts of the city.
Al Sadd – a busy commercial area best suited to singles and couples without kids. As Sadd has plenty of apartments to choose from, along with several of the older expat compounds.
Al Wa’ab (also written Al Waab or Al Wabb) – a hugely popular area for expat families which is close to several local schools and nurseries. Close proximity to the Villaggio Mall and Aspire Park have helped make this area even more popular, which led to the construction of the new Al Wa’ab City development.
Madinat Khalifa – an area which is becoming increasingly popular with expat families. Like Al Wa’ab, the proximity to local schools is a huge pulling factor, as is the proximity to the shops on the nearby Khalifa Street.
The Pearl – a 985 acre plot north of the Corniche. With a huge selection of luxury brand shops, and restaurants like Gordon Ramsey’s Maze, The Pearl is one of the most sought after areas in Doha – unsurprisingly, local rent prices often reflect this.