When relocating to Kuwait, new arrivals will have to start budgeting for a cost of living in a foreign currency. The exchange rate may also be a shock for many a new arrival – the Kuwaiti dinar (KWD or KD) is the strongest currency in the world.

Living expenses in Kuwait may also differ greatly for expats, depending on their salary and any additional benefits they receive, as well as their lifestyle and what they choose to spend their money on.

Unfortunately, securing a job and receiving lucrative employment packages in this Gulf state is no longer a guarantee, provided the national push for Kuwaitisation. That said, expats offered a job here can negotiate where possible for potential benefits. This is especially important for expat parents who are considering tuition costs at international schools.

Thankfully, provided a generous salary, prices may be less of a burden on the wallet than expats expect from this high-income country. According to Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2020, the capital, Kuwait City, placed 113th out of 209 countries, ranking it more affordable than many major cities, including Barcelona, Toronto and Doha.


Cost of accommodation in Kuwait

Many expats move to Kuwait with accommodation provided by their employer. Employers own or lease apartments for their expat staff to reside in, and in these cases, expats won't need to worry about rent, utilities or furniture costs.

However, expats who must pay rent should expect over a third of their income to go towards accommodation expenses. Do check if utilities are included in the rental contract, as the necessary air-conditioning in summer could contribute to a high electricity bill.


Cost of shopping in Kuwait

Of course, expat shopping habits range and lifestyles vary. Some expats may prefer simple purchases or go shopping at local souks, while others may have a particular diet that requires certain types of food.

A significant proportion of groceries in Kuwait have to be imported. So, buying typical food items that may have been more accessible at home could come at a higher price.

New arrivals may find it helpful to draw up a grocery list and note the cost of each item as they go shopping.


Cost of healthcare in Kuwait

Expats can access both public and private healthcare in Kuwait. However, most expats recommend private medical facilities, which offer a high standard of care and shorter waiting times. Private hospitals, however, are expensive.

Health insurance is essential, and expats must typically pay towards public healthcare, whether they will opt to use it or not. We recommend getting comprehensive private medical cover for stays in Kuwait.


Cost of transport in Kuwait

Buses, cars and taxis are the main forms of public transport. Buses are cheap but not frequently used by expats who can afford to get around in Kuwait by car. Expats are happy to buy first- or second-hand vehicles or rent a car as petrol is cheap in Kuwait. Driving can be much more affordable here than in other Western countries but bear in mind additional expenses, such as car insurance.

Taxis are also relatively affordable, but it’s advised to agree on a price before setting off.


Cost of living in Kuwait chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Kuwait City in October 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

 KWD 400 - 700

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

 KWD 300 - 500

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

 KWD 200 - 350

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

 KWD 150 - 250

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

 KWD 0.55

Milk (1 litre)

 KWD 0.40

Rice (1kg)

 KWD 0.60

Loaf of white bread

 KWD 0.35

Chicken breasts (1kg)

 KWD 1.45

Pack of cigarettes

 KWD 1

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 KWD 2

Coca-Cola (330ml)

 KWD 0.18

Cappuccino 

 KWD 1.55

Bottle of local non-alcoholic beer

 KWD 1

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

 KWD  12

Household

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

 KWD 0.05

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

 KWD 8

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

 KWD 15

Transport

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

 KWD 1

Bus fare in the city centre

 KWD 0.25

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

 KWD 0.10

Expat Health Insurance

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