When relocating abroad, housing is a major concern. Where are the best areas to live and how can an expat secure affordable accommodation in Kuwait, are among the frequently asked questions.
Fortunately, Kuwait City, where many expats end up basing themselves, boasts a variety of accommodation options. And while rent prices could account for a third of an average budget, expats working in Kuwait are often provided with an apartment or house through their employer.
Types of accommodation in Kuwait
The majority of housing in Kuwait comes in the form of apartments, villas (large houses) and floors, which occupy a single floor of a villa. Thanks to recent construction, modern apartment blocks are also available for expats to choose from, as well as serviced apartments. Both short-term and long-term rentals are available.
Homes in Kuwait are generally quite spacious, and may even have extra rooms available for domestic staff, a luxury that many expats may find they can afford in Kuwait. Expats will find that they can enjoy an active lifestyle in Kuwait as housing complexes often have facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and tennis courts.
However, as glamorous as this may first appear, the standard of housing is variable. Older apartments may not be quite what an expat was hoping for as they may be much smaller than advertised or have outdated fittings and decor.
Although there are some housing compounds in Kuwait, they are not as common for expats as in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, and expats tend to live in apartment blocks and villas nestled among the local Kuwaiti population.
When house hunting in Kuwait, be sure to consider the availability of parking if the plan is to own or rent a car. Also be aware that construction is ongoing in Kuwait, and the noise and dust from construction sites in some areas could make life less pleasant.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Expat housing often comes fully furnished, where tenants have limited choice on the decor and furnishings. While some may feel restricted by this, many may find it suits their short expat stay well.
Not all apartments and villas are fully kitted out with light fittings, appliances and air conditioning. Before signing a lease, prospective tenants should explicitly ask about the level of furnishing available. Some major appliances may be present in advertisement photographs but are often just for show.
Finding accommodation in Kuwait
With a wide variety of options, expats will find it quite easy to find accommodation in Kuwait. It is likely that one’s employer will assist in the house-hunting process, and will finance it in part or in full. The employing company often also becomes the primary signatory on the lease, thus carrying the burden as the sponsor of the expat.
Those searching for accommodation alone should consider using a real-estate agent; there are several to choose from in Kuwait. Online listings are also easily accessible on real estate and classifieds platforms such as OpenSooq, as are ads in local English-language newspapers.
Word of mouth is another good way of finding accommodation in Kuwait. As expats frequently come and go, available apartments regularly pop up, and networking is helpful when finding the perfect home.
Renting accommodation in Kuwait
Whether expats have housing provided for them by their employers or go it alone, we recommend tenants know what they are entitled to and what, if any, costs they must cover.
Leases are normally signed for a period of one year. However, short-term rentals are also available and can be negotiated. When making an application, prospective tenants may need to communicate with their employer who is sponsoring their stay in Kuwait.
The rental agreement will usually be written in Arabic. So, we suggest a trusted translator draws up the lease in English. Bear in mind that should a dispute arise, the Arabic version will be the only one taken into account, but a translation hopes to avoid any confusion.
A security deposit of at least a month’s rent will be required to secure the property. Sometimes rent is required upfront for three to six months’ stay.
Expats should also establish upfront whether utilities are included in the rental. Utilities such as water and electricity are often a separate expense that the tenant must cover. With the necessary reliance on air-conditioning in summer, these costs can be high.
►Read more about life in Kuwait in the Pros and Cons of Living in Kuwait
"Expats tend to live in apartments or villas, the rule of thumb being apartments on the coast with the view and quite expensive. Villas are larger more inland and more for your money. Housing costs are similar to most big cities. An interesting point is that there is not really a real estate market; the best way to find a property, particularly apartments, is to drive around and ask at any building you like the look of, whether there are any spaces." Read our interview with Avril Bailey for insightful tips on securing a home in Kuwait.
"If you like being near the centre of everything then Salmiya is best. If you would prefer quieter and more residential areas, then in the north there is Salwa and Rumathiya, and in the south there is Egaila and Fintas." Gemma talks about housing standards and the best areas and neighbourhoods in Kuwait City in this expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Kuwait?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Kuwait. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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