The cost of living in Bahrain is consistently on the rise due to inflation and the presence of a Western expat population prepared to pay premium prices for goods and services.

That said, compared to other regional commercial centres such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Bahrain is still a reasonable destination when it comes to balancing the budget and keeping a little something extra in the bank.

The 2024 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Manama, the country's capital and largest city, 110th out of 226 cities worldwide. As in all locations, however, the cost of living can vary tremendously depending on the lifestyle expats choose to lead.

In the past, accommodation and car allowances were common add-ons to expat employment packages in Bahrain. Although they are occasionally still included, it's become more common to give one all-inclusive salary amount rather than a base amount plus add-ons. For this reason, it's vital to make sure that earnings adequately cover standard expenses and then some.

Cost of accommodation in Bahrain

Accommodation will be the most significant expat expense. Costs are generally high, but there are plenty of different housing options that will satisfy nearly every budget. Property inside expat compounds is by far the priciest, so opting for an apartment in town will certainly cost less.

Cost of transport in Bahrain

Despite the island's compact size, public transport options are currently somewhat limited, resulting in most expats needing to budget for a private vehicle. Again, prices vary tremendously based on several factors. Buying a pre-owned, older make and model will be the cheapest option here. Renting a car is also an option if an expat plans a short stay of just a few months.

Cost of groceries in Bahrain

The cost of groceries in Bahrain can be pretty surprising for new expats, as it varies widely depending on where one shops and what one buys. Imported goods, especially those from Europe and North America, tend to be much pricier than local or regional products.

For example, a loaf of bread from a well-known international brand may cost double or even triple the price of a locally produced one. Similarly, fresh produce like fruits and vegetables can be more affordable when bought from local markets rather than upscale supermarkets.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Bahrain

Entertainment and dining out are two areas where costs can add up quickly in Bahrain. The island has a vibrant social scene, with a wide range of options from luxury fine dining to more casual eateries. A meal at a mid-range restaurant can be comparable in price to dining out in major cities in Western Europe or the US. Fast food and more casual dining options are relatively affordable.

When it comes to entertainment, there are plenty of activities to choose from, including water sports, cinemas and various cultural attractions. While some activities, such as visiting historical sites, are relatively inexpensive, others, like water sports or a night out at a high-end lounge, can be quite costly.

Cost of education in Bahrain

Expat families moving to Bahrain usually send their children to one of the island's private or international schools. This can be a sizeable unforeseen expense, especially for expats coming from countries where school expenses are covered or subsidised by the government. Tuition fees can also vary depending on the age of the children and the school selected.

Expats sending their children to an international school will need to budget annually for school fees. Additional expenses may include extracurricular activities, school uniforms, textbooks and other school supplies.

Cost of healthcare in Bahrain

Healthcare in Bahrain is of a high standard, and expats have access to both public and private healthcare facilities. The quality of care and the range of services provided in private hospitals and clinics are often superior to those in public facilities. As a result, many expats prefer to use private healthcare, which can be costly, especially for specialised treatments or surgeries.

Expats are required to have health insurance, and it's advisable to have a comprehensive policy that covers a wide range of medical services. Some employers provide health insurance as part of the employment package, but it's essential to check what is covered and consider purchasing additional coverage if necessary.

Cost of living in Bahrain chart

Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices for Manama in November 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreBHD 650
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreBHD 460
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreBHD 360
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreBHD 280
Food and drink
Dozen eggsBHD 1
Milk (1 litre)BHD 0.60
Rice (1kg)BHD 0.56
Loaf of white breadBHD 0.52
Chicken breasts (1kg)BHD 3
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)BHD 2.40
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantBHD 20
Big Mac MealBHD 2.50
Coca-Cola (330ml)BHD 0.30
CappuccinoBHD 1.88
Bottle of beer (local)BHD 3
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)BHD 0.04
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)BHD 14
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)BHD 60
Taxi rate/kmBHD 2.30
City-centre public transport fareBHD 0.30
Gasoline (per litre)BHD 0.20

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