An Expat’s Comprehensive Relocation Guide: Qatar
A country located on the gulf peninsular Qatar is another popular destination for expats to relocate to. And with it already hosting major regional and international events, the Qatari government’s investment in its infrastructure provides the necessary platform for it to be one of the most formidable states in the region.
Qatar’s rapid economic growth in recent years is led by its oil and gas industry, as is standard in this region. Qatar’s position as the leading global exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has increased despite recent competition from Australia, US and East Africa. This will likely pose a threat in the years to come but not as soon as 2015. The country, however, has maintained positive growth across all its industries, with many opportunities throughout every sector.
The construction industry is currently seeing rapid growth with projects such as the Doha Metro well underway and up coming mega events such as the FIFA World Cup in 2022 looking to provide and increase in construction demands. Qatar’s construction spending is expected to reach about $150 Billion USD over the next decade. With major investments in roads (USD20bn), railways (USD40bn), stadiums (USD 4bn), and deep water seaports, this is all aligned with Qatar’s 2030 vision development plan. This is likely to guarantee the construction market remains robust for at least the next decade.
Qatar has no system of personal income tax and there is also no value-added or sales taxes and no capital or wealth tax. The only exception is for self-employed foreign professionals working in Qatar, who will be taxed for their income.
A Work Residence Permit is not easily obtained unless there is a job offer or contract from a Qatar-based employer. Once a job offer is accepted, the employer begins the application process; the employer informs the employee of what documentation will be required. Certificates such as university degrees and marriage documents may need to be presented to both the country of issue’s foreign office, also well as the Qatari embassy. A medical test is also compulsory for all forms of residency permit.
Main Relocation Costs:
Accommodation costs will form the bulk of an expat’s relocation expenditure. Unless housing is provided by your employer, this will account for roughly 30 to 40 percent of a monthly salary. A 3 bedroom apartment in the city center of Doha will likely cost somewhere in the realm of $4,235.60 USD whilst a 3 bedroom apartment outside of the city center will be around $2,809.21 USD.
Rent for expat-standard accommodation is significantly high, but small comfort can be taken in the fact that it has decreased considerably since prices peaked around 2008.
The cost of petrol in Qatar is cheap – just US$0.27 per litre – which adds to the intense love affair people have with their cars. It may also explain the country’s nearly non-existent public transport system (which they are looking to remedy), making the purchase of a vehicle another critical relocation cost.
Costs of Living:
The cost of living in Qatar is not nearly as high as in its Middle Eastern neighbours, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Aside from incredibly cheap petrol however, many everyday goods are more expensive in Qatar than what one may be accustomed to in the UK or US. 90% of the country’s food is imported, meaning that even basic foodstuffs can be expensive. A cappuccino costs around (on average) $5 USD and a litre of mil is $2.07.
It is fair to say that the lifestyle in Qatar revolves around two things: money and the weather. The cost of certain Western luxuries, such as alcohol or going to the cinema, are excessively high. And the typical scorching summers makes outdoor activities very limited during large parts of the year. If you can bear some of these grievances, however, there are certainly activities and cultural events that can lend themselves to a fulfilling lifestyle. Places such as the Corniche, State Grad Mosque, Museums and malls mean you will be not short of something to do on the weekends.
Private Schooling Fees:
Expats can expect to pay a non-refundable application fee of around 500 QAR to most schools they are applying to. Some of the elite private school fees can cost over US$18,000 per year. There is also a host of other non-refundable expenses, including registration, material, uniforms, capital, re-enrolment and graduation fees. Parents may also be required to provide school materials that aren’t easy to find in Qatar.
The expat community in Qatar is small and friendly, and very typically very welcoming to newcomers. British expats are a prominent group, as well as the Americans, Indians, and Nepalis. A minimal amount of searching for activities and new friends will usually be very fruitful.
Qatar provides a unique blend of the exotic and comfortable. It is a destination where you can combine the sense of adventure of living abroad while also maintaining the levels of comfort and luxury experienced in the West. It is a rapidly growing and evolving country where opportunities are sure to be found, and where an enjoyable expatriate experience can be had.
Want to move abroad? Upload your CV to begin the process: