5 helpful things to know before moving to Qatar

The number of people relocating to Qatar is growing year on year. This country is rich in oil and therefore it offers well-paid jobs that attract professionals from other countries. Unfortunately these people often do not take time to find out about expat life in Qatar. In order to ensure a smooth transition, here are 5 things you need to know well in advance.

  1. One crucial item is about family visas. Some expats cannot bring in their own families. You must be earning an amount that exceeds a level set by the Qatar authorities (currently 10,000 qar a month) for you to bring in your family. With regard to recent rule changes, some women working in private firms are not able to sponsor their families causing the application to be rejected. If this happens to you, you can appeal. Some firms will process family visas if the employee has been in the country for at least 6 months. You need to check if this applies to you.
  2. Qatar has enormous expansion plans that ensure that professionals moving into the country bring in their young children. While schools belonging to the country are not full, the best schools have waiting lists that are long. If you have enough time for planning your move make an application for a place early. Most of the schools will only accept applicants for a very short period every year.
  3. The healthcare system is well resourced in Qatar. Medical corporations offer treatment for free to those that are registered including expats, but the very best care is in private health care.  If you choose private health care it can be costly especially for complex operations and maternity care. The best thing is to check whether the policy covers health insurance for your dependants as well. You also need to note if there are any exclusions.
  4. Driving in Qatar can be challenging. However it may be necessary to drive because taxis are under high pressure and the bus system is unreliable. If you hold a valid licence, even if it is from a different country, you can drive rented cars for a period that does not exceed one week. From there you will need an IDL (International Driver’s License). It will keep you legal on the roads for 6 months. Your IDL will be invalid once you are issued with a residence permit.
  5. Before you begin the expat life in Qatar, you need to know about the cost of living. Even if you expect an impressive salary you should check carefully that it is possible to live on it as well as save appropriately too. Petrol is cheap, but most of the everyday goods are expensive. One of the reasons is that Qatar imports 90% of its food. The cost of cultural pursuits and entertainment went up by 7.8% last year so the cost of living is increasing. You may also need to consider annual travel costs for additional flights to home for example, that are not covered by your company.

Expat life in Qatar can be great if you keep your eyes open before you relocate. Qatar people are welcoming, therefore they will be of great help as you settle. It is normal for you to have the odd bad experiences in some areas because you are new in the country. However, you must prevent such experiences from putting you down and keep them to a minimum by carefully planning before you move to the country.