When relocating abroad, housing is a priority. Finding the best areas to live and affordable accommodation in Kuwait are among an expat's primary concerns when relocating.
Fortunately, Kuwait City boasts a variety of accommodation options, and many expats end up staying here. While rent prices could account for a third of an average budget, expats working in Kuwait are often provided with an apartment or house by their employer.
Types of accommodation in Kuwait
The majority of housing in Kuwait comes in the form of apartments, villas (large houses) and single floors in large villas that can be rented. 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. Housing complexes often offer expats facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and tennis courts in the comfort of their own buildings.
That said, the standard of housing differs greatly throughout the city. Older apartments are often much smaller than advertised or have outdated fittings and decor. Because of this, expats are advised to inspect all apartments and accommodation before finalising any legal contracts.
Although there are some housing compounds in Kuwait, they are not as common as in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, and expats tend to live in apartment blocks and villas nestled among the local Kuwaiti population.
Expats with a car should be sure to consider the availability of parking when house hunting in Kuwait. Also be aware that construction is common in many parts of the country, and the noise and dust from these sites could greatly impact daily life.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Expat housing often comes fully furnished, meaning tenants have limited choice on the decor. While this may make some feel restricted, many expats find it suits their short stay, curbing the need to move their own furniture between countries at exorbitant costs.
On the other hand, some homes are rented out with little or no furnishings. Expats may need to supply their own home with basics such as light fittings, appliances and air conditioning. Before signing a lease, prospective tenants should explicitly ask about the level of furnishing available.
Finding accommodation in Kuwait
With a wide variety of options, expats have little trouble finding accommodation in Kuwait. Many employers assist expats in the house-hunting process, and some finance the costs of rent in part or completely.
Online listings and property portals such as OpenSooq are easily accessible and highly effective when it comes to finding accommodation. Estate agents can also be a big help and ads in local English-language newspapers can have a great deal of attractive listings.
Word of mouth is another good way of finding accommodation in Kuwait. Because expats frequently come and go, apartments regularly become available, and networking is key 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, but shorter-term rentals are also available and can be negotiated. When making an application, prospective tenants may need to communicate with their employer sponsoring their stay in Kuwait.
The rental agreement will usually be written in Arabic, so we suggest a trusted translator should draw up the lease in English.
A security deposit of at least a month’s rent will be required to secure most properties. This deposit is refundable at the end of the lease, provided no damage was done to the property. Sometimes rent is also required upfront for three to six months’ stay.
Expats should also establish whether utilities are included in the rental. Water and electricity are often a separate expenses that the tenant must cover, and with air-conditioning in summer being essential, 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. 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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