With over 4,000 expats arriving in Qatar every day, what are the factors new arrivals are faced with in this fast expanding conservative country.
No income tax
Qatar is still one of the few income tax free countries in the world. This provides many people with the opportunity to increase quality of life and/or boost their savings. It should be noted that relatively high net incomes can be countered and somewhat negated by the high cost of living (see below).
In order to bring your family to Qatar, you will need to earn a salary of more than 10,000 QR per month (USD 2,750). It is also important to understand that in order to live together a couple must be married. This is particularly important if you wish to bring children with you.
In addition to requiring visas to bring your family you also require visas to exit the country most high-level employees can I ask the employer to arrange an annual multiple exit permit. Otherwise permission must be sought from the employer on a case-by-case basis.
The rapid expansion of Qatar has resulted in certain sectors trailing behind. Whilst construction of new schools is apparent, many families are faced with a severe shortage of school places. Long waiting lists are not uncommon for most of the best schools. However the transient expat population in Qatar means school places can become available during the course of the year.
School fees (British curriculum) can range from 35,000 QR (USD 9,600) – 55,000 QR (USD 15,100) per year.
Many expats choose to live on, gated residential community (compounds), which often have facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and playgrounds. This provides a very social lifestyle particularly for children I makes the process of settling in and living in Qatar much easier. Rent is not cheap however, a 3-4 bedroom home on a compound in Doha will cost between 13,500 QR (USD 3,750) – 20,000 QR (USD 5,500) per month, and this excludes utilities.
Not only is the UAE and Oman on your doorstep, exotic places like the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Goa are only a 3 – 4 hour flight away. Whilst wonderful Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are within a 6 to 7 hour flight.
The extreme heat and humidity in Qatar is well documented. Things start to heat up in April and by July/August temperature is in the high 40s. However between October and March the cool season is very pleasant with average daily temperatures between 20 to 25°.
Dust storms are also very common particularly during the summer months.
Cost of living
With 90% of foodstuffs imported it is hardly surprising the cost of living is very high, certainly when compared with Europe. Entertainment in the country is not cheap and although no official figures are available inflation is generally considered to be increasing.
Transport / Road safety
Public transport systems in Doha are bit of an afterthought and sadly inadequate. As a consequence the vast majority of people traveled by car (including taxi’s of which there is a drastic shortage). Driving can be a challenge and it’s not for the faint hearted. You can drive on an international drivers license for up to 6 months. Once your Qatari residents permit is issued you must apply for a Qatari driving license.