An Expat’s Comprehensive Relocation Guide: Kuwait
Great things can indeed come in small packages. Kuwait is proof of that. Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world, but it still offers some of the best opportunities for expatriates. With a strong business environment, thriving expatriate community and engaging local attractions, Kuwait is definitely worth considering for your move abroad.
Due to its small population, Kuwait does rely on sourcing talent from mature markets to help drive growth; therefore Kuwait has many expats working there. Largely in the energy sector, this is by far the countries key industry.
Kuwait aims to increase crude oil production a further 3.5 million barrels per day in 2015 with an eye to increase this furthermore to 4 million by 2020. This is a significant increase considering its current production stands at 3.2 million barrels per day.
It is also looking to increase its gas production to 2,600 billion cubic feet per day by 2020 through the development of non-associated gas reserves compared to the current average production of 1.5 billion cfpd.
Aiming to be one of the largest movers in the oil and gas industry within 2015 and also the upcoming decade with an increase in experienced workers expected, the demand for skilled engineers, construction workers and machine operators remains at a constant high.
Other opportunities do exist however, in business sectors such as real estate, construction, business services, education, healthcare and finance- especially with the worst of the global economic decline seemingly behind us.
There is no personal income tax rate applied in Kuwait. Moreover there is no other personal income tax such as value added tax on goods, nor property/real estate tax.
To live permanently in Kuwait, expatriates other than GCC citizens must have iqama, or residence permit. To obtain residence on a work visa, an offer of employment must first be accepted. The Kuwaiti sponsoring employer then must apply for a work permit from the Ministry of Social Affairs & Labour. The sponsor will need a copy of the employee’s passport to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the General Administration of Criminal Investigation at the Ministry of Interior. Once the expatriate has entered Kuwait, they must undergo local medical tests and obtain a fingerprint certificate before he can process his residence visa.
Main Relocation Costs:
The most common and reliable form of transport in Kuwait is via automobile. Therefore, obtaining a vehicle will be an essential relocation cost. Fortunately for expats, the nation has a well-developed road network, and petrol is cheap (approximately 21c per litre) – thereby aiding in keeping this purchase from becoming too costly.
Costs of Living:
The cost of living in Kuwait is more or less equivalent to that in the majority of European nations, for an average western expatriate. In other words, life in Kuwait can be considerably expensive; Business Insider reports that Kuwait maintains the ninth highest cost of living in the world. While the cost of goods and services may not be real bargains like those seen in Southeast Asia, but the lack of taxation is a major advantage to make these costs less oppressive. This is particularly true on certain items like cars. A 3 bedroom apartment in the city centre in Kuwait is likely to cost you 2,248 USD – quite reasonable compared to the staggering property prices in places such as Dubai) whereas a similar apartment would cost you approximated $1,859 USD per month.
Kuwait offers a fantastic experience for those who appreciate the low-key and family life. It possesses amazing architecture, great shopping experiences and fun outdoor activities such as water sports. However, if you are on the lookout for a western style nightclub in Kuwait, you may be a bit disappointed. This is not Dubai!
The nightlife in Kuwait focuses on friends and food, and smoke of water pipe or shisha, or maybe one of the low-key discos, but alcohol will not be sold here due to religious beliefs. However, nightlife in Kuwait has its own charm and can add different kind of flavour to your vacation, as nightlife in this city does not mean just the nightclubs and bars.
Private Schooling Fees:
Government schools are only for Kuwaiti children or children of educators. This makes private schooling critical for expats with children. In general, education is expensive in Kuwait. While they can be pricey, there are a great variety of options, including American, British, Indian, Pakistani and Filipino schools, apart from local schools.
The school fee will vary, as each private school has its own policy. Therefore, the cost would depend on the type of school you choose. The majority of them, however, will cost over US$3,500 annually, with some of the upper-tier schools costing US$12,500 per year. In general, costs of additional school fees are all equally expensive on average, in comparison to other global locations.
Amazingly, Kuwaiti citizens account for only 40% of the nation’s total population. Amongst this significant expat population, some of the largest nationality groups include those from India (600,000+), Egypt (450,000+), and Syria (130,000+). There is estimated to be over 13,000 Americans residing in Kuwait.
There are a wide variety of expat leagues and clubs for newcomers to join. This especially extends to female expatriates, with notable organizations such as the AWL (American Women’s League) and BLS (British Ladies Society). These organisations and clubs have social gatherings and are also deeply involved with schools and charitable programs.
Kuwait may be one of the smallest countries in the world, but it packs a big bargain as one of the best opportunities for expatriates. With a strong business environment, thriving expatriate community and engaging local activities, Kuwait is definitely worth considering for your move abroad.
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