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Choosing a new home in Qatar

In Qatar, most people will work in the capital Doha and live not far away.

With a wealth of areas to consider, the city is well known for offering something for everyone, although it’s worth bearing in mind that housing is controlled and only some developments are available to expatriates who wish to purchase.

Following the global financial crash in 2008, property prices in Qatar dropped by around 40%.  Rent dropped by less, but recovery has been relatively steady since.  Except for a slight dip in 2010, prices are consistently rising, along with the population.

Qatar’s upcoming hosting of the 2022 World Cup, spectacular economic growth over recent years, and an increase in expatriate population have supported these rises in the value of real estate, particularly in the market for city apartments.

How expats are regarded

The Gulf is overwhelmingly expat friendly. Personal crime levels are low, and the overwhelming impression is that Qatar is a safe place to live. Around three-quarters of Qatar’s population is made up of expatriates, a great number of which live close to the capital.  Around 82% of the total population lives in just two areas in Qatar: Doha city and the surrounding Al Rayyan municipality. Three further areas — Al Khor, Umm Salal, and Al Wakrah, are among the most popular with foreigners.

The Qatari government’s portal, Hukoomi, has more information about real estate, areas in which foreigners may purchase a home, and lots of other useful advice for newcomers.

Areas to settle down in

There are several localities in and around Doha that attract members of the expat community:

  • Pearl: young and trendy, this area sits on a portion of reclaimed land. Top for luxury hotels, shops and apartments, it has easy road links and an upmarket feel.
  • Mushereib: the buildings are a little older, the roads a little narrower, but it is close to the business district and the bustle of Souq Waqif, the main market area.
  • West Bay and Dafna: an affluent area, it is home to most of the foreign embassies and diplomatic staff – with beautiful villas, wide roads and the stunning City Centre Mall, surrounded by the high-rise buildings of the financial and business district.
  • Al Waab/Al Sadd: popular with expats, you’ll find plenty of family compound accommodation and villas in a well-maintained district.
  • Abu Hamour: great choice of accommodation types with easy access to most of the schools.
  • Al Gharaffa: with villas, compounds and apartments on offer, this area is one of the largest and it has great road links as well as easy access to great shops and Education City – making it a first choice with many teachers.
  • Duhail: a little further away from the hustle and bustle, this quiet area is home to newer villas and is popular with those commuting to the industrial city of Ras Laffan.

Postal service

New arrivals may be surprised at the lack of postal service to homes, something which seems unusual at first. There is usually no restriction on having post sent to one’s work address, but most residents will opt to use a post office box (PO Box). You can set this up online. For this reason, street addresses may seem oddly irrelevant and people will direct you to locations via roundabouts and landmarks.  (Resources such as Google Maps can usually assist if instructions fail.)

Crime, safety and family

By most measures, crime levels in Qatar are low to very low and hardly impact on daily life. The reality is matched by the perception, as residents reporting they feel like they could be the victim of a crime is also very low. People generally feel safe walking alone day or night, and police will always attend the reporting of a crime. In general, police and other authorities will be unfailingly polite to expats, and pregnant women are offered all sorts of courtesies in the Middle East. Parents with young children are also looked after — employees in banks, government offices, for example, will offer your little ones sweets, water, or toys in an effort to engage and distract them from what might be an otherwise dull situation.

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