Relocation to any destination has its disadvantages and advantages, and expats will find that Kuwait is no different. The better prepared a person is for the less appealing aspects of life abroad, the more successfully they’ll be able to adapt. Here are some of the pros and cons of living in Kuwait.
Accommodation in Kuwait
+ PRO: Lots of options for accommodation
Thanks to a construction boom in Kuwait, many different apartments and villas are on offer for expats to choose from. Almost all of the apartment buildings have a haris or manager on the building premises who will arrange for the trash to be taken out and one's car to be washed for a small monthly fee.
- CON: Limited parking and amenities
Most buildings have limited parking spaces and amenities. It seems that parking spaces are not included in the blueprints of buildings so most renters are left to try to find a space elsewhere.
Lifestyle in Kuwait
+ PRO: There are many things to do
The best time of the year to explore Kuwait is between October and April which are the 'winter' months. There are many museums to visit and events to attend. Failaka Island, known for its archaeological ruins, is great for a weekend getaway with the family.
+ PRO: Taking advantage of the sunshine
When summer comes to Kuwait, everything tends to slow down as people stay home more often. But for beach lovers, there are jet skis, beach resorts with pools, and fishing excursions for entertainment.
- CON: Extremely hot summers
Dry, hot summers with some humid days may keep expats at home rather than daring to venture out. Fortunately, every building is air-conditioned and there are a lot of indoor activities (such as malls and restaurants) from which to choose.
- CON: Litter
Unfortunately, litter is a big problem in Kuwait as many people happily throw things out of their windows instead of taking the time to find a bin. Residential areas don’t have enough large dustbins for the number of people living there, so garbage sometimes overflows into the streets.
Safety in Kuwait
+ PRO: Low crime rates
Kuwait has a low level of crime but everyone should be aware of their surroundings, and it's advised that women shouldn't walk alone.
- CON: Police are known to have bad attitudes
In the event of an accident and needing to file a report, expats may find that the police are in no rush to assist. There have been cases of police officers showing up to the scene of an accident late if it’s just a fender bender. Language is also an issue as few police officers speak English. It helps to understand Arabic or have a translator.
Working and doing business in Kuwait
+ PRO: High salaries
Kuwait has the highest-valued currency in the world which means more tax-free income to send home.
- CON: Expats must have a Kuwaiti partner
Expats wanting to do business in Kuwait must usually have a Kuwaiti partner or sponsor.
Culture shock in Kuwait
+ PRO: A variety of expat social organisations
There is a wide variety of expat clubs for women to join, such as the American Women’s League (AWL) and British Ladies Society (BLS), among others. These organisations have regular gatherings and are deeply involved with schools and charity projects. Social media platforms are a good way to reach out to these expat groups.
+ PRO: Younger generation is more open
- CON: Segregation rules
Expats can face quite a culture shock in terms of segregation rules. It's not always easy to make friends or start dating. Approaching and talking to a stranger is frowned upon, especially men talking to women.
Cost of living in Kuwait
+ PRO: Tax-free income
There is no personal income tax in Kuwait, even for expats living and working there.
- CON: High cost of basic goods
Although there are no taxes, the majority of goods are imported, which means higher charges on basic necessities.
Education and schools in Kuwait
+ PRO: Many different types of private schools to choose from
There are many different private schools in Kuwait. From Indian and Pakistani to American and British schools, expats have a wide variety of choice when it comes to international schools.
+ PRO: Wide variety of colleges
There are several different colleges for students to choose from, which means one does not have to travel abroad for higher education.
- CON: Education is expensive
Western private schools are extremely expensive if one's company does not pay for it, and the education children receive may not always live up to the expected quality.
Healthcare in Kuwait
+ PRO: Many private hospitals to choose from
Kuwait has many private hospitals and more are being built. Most expats have insurance provided by their companies. Medical insurance is also available for everyone but can be costly.
- CON: Long waits at public hospitals
For those without insurance, government clinics and hospitals can be a nightmare as Kuwaiti citizens tend to have priority over others, making a wait even longer. Don’t expect to spend less than two hours for any visit to a public hospital.
►Read more about what expats have to say about life in Kuwait in Expat Experiences in Kuwait
"Well, most expats when asked love the fact that the weather is sunny every day, and we live right on the beach with a fantastic view over the Gulf. Living abroad allows you the opportunity to be part of a more international community of people with fascinating tales of their home countries and travels." Read our interview with Avril Bailey for more on life in Kuwait.
"Not much greenery or outdoor activities to do in Kuwait and it can look quite messy in some areas – rubbish and old, run-down buildings. Also the crazy driving and traffic! I miss family of course and being able to get around via public transport more easily. And grass!" Gemma shares some downsides to living in Kuwait in this 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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