Accommodation in Qatar

Expat accommodation in Qatar ranges from apartments and individual villas to sprawling expat compounds. Despite expectations that rental prices would significantly increase due to the country's successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, costs have remained stable and supply still meets demand.

For the most part, accommodation remains one of the main financial benefits included in packages geared towards luring qualified personnel from all over the world to assist in the emirate's growth. Most expats who move to Qatar for work purposes arrive to accommodation chosen and organised by their employer.

Types of accommodation in Qatar

Whether lucky enough to have their company organise accommodation as part of a lucrative expat package, or whether the move to Qatar has been made with little or no knowledge of the housing market, expats will quickly realise that the most sought-after property is within expat compounds – veritable walled suburbs with 24-hour security and all other amenities required for comfortable expat living.

Families with children often prefer compounds for the peace of mind that the safe and secure public space can provide. The presence of other families with shared values can also be attractive and can help to establish easy friendships and a sense of camaraderie.

In many cases, companies often rent complete compounds or sections of compounds to ensure a reduction in rates. Compounds can consist of as few as six units or as many as hundreds, and usually have a shared swimming pool and a clubhouse with gym equipment. Some of the larger and more upmarket compounds have luxury facilities, including small supermarkets, tennis courts, squash facilities and, in some cases, restaurants.  

Housing in expat compounds in Qatar often comes fully furnished, so it may not be necessary for expats to box up their belongings and ship them overseas. If this isn’t a preferred option, unfurnished and semi-furnished options are also available, although those who are interested in going this route may want to negotiate the inclusion of an adequate shipping and start-up allowance in their employment contract to cover furnishing costs.

While a high demand exists for compound housing in Qatar, renting outside of these insular communities is also commonplace. Both standalone villas and apartments are widely available.

Villas typically have four bedrooms or more, and often have a small enclosed garden area. Freestanding villas are not customarily fully furnished, while semi-furnished villas will often contain simple appliances, air conditioning and registered utilities. Freestanding villas used to be far more expensive than compound villas, but this has changed with shifts in supply and demand. By contrast, apartments and flats are fairly abundant in Doha. Choices range from small one-bedroom apartments in busy downtown areas to large five-bedroom apartments in upmarket buildings close to the ocean.

Most apartments are rented fully furnished, and if choosing an apartment or flat in an older built-up or busy area with dated buildings, expats should proceed with the utmost caution. Broken appliances, furniture and undesirable neighbours can become quite problematic. At very low rents, landlords tend to shift maintenance issues onto frequently ill-informed tenants.

Finding accommodation in Qatar

Most expats living in Qatar are lucky enough to have their employer arrange their accommodation. This takes much of the stress out of the process of relocating and having to get to grips with the property market in an unfamiliar country. 

For those that are going it alone, though, the services of a local real estate agent are strongly recommended. Having an individual to negotiate the language barrier and eliminate the time in finding appropriate options is well worth the extra fee. Otherwise, listings are available in the classifieds section of the English newspaper, the Gulf Times, as well as on supermarket boards and realty websites.

Renting accommodation in Qatar

If the employer is organising an expat's accommodation, they will negotiate the lease with the landlord. If not, expats should expect to pay one year’s rent up front. Most expats choose to make the payment with a number of post-dated cheques; although those who can afford to pay in one lump sum can often leverage a lower price.

Utilities are not usually included, but these costs are reasonable thanks to the government’s policy of subsidisation.

Expats should make sure that their housing in Qatar is equipped with an air conditioning unit. Temperatures soar in summer, and installing this facility can be expensive.

Hermien Stofberg Our Expat Expert

I am a South African travel addict turned global citizen. I love reading, painting and writing.  I am passionate about motorcycles and women's rights. Aroma Therapy is a hobby which I turned into a business, and the benefits and power of this holistic healing treatment astound me daily.  I believe that the women of the Middle East are slowly coming into their own, and that this is fast becoming a good news story.  We can all make a difference if we buckle down and start in our own backyard today.

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