Expat cost of living in Bahrain 2021 – that will be the topic of this article.
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Bahrain, full official form – the Kingdom of Bahrain (Arabic – Mamlyaka al-Bahrain) is an island state on the archipelago of the same name in the Persian Gulf in South-West Asia, the smallest Arab state. Bahrain occupies three relatively large and many small islands 16 km east of the coast of Saudi Arabia and is connected to this country by a road bridge.
The kingdom is home to the main operating base of the US Fifth Fleet at Juffair, near Manama.
Bahrain is an island state on the archipelago of the same name, which consists of 32 islands located in the Persian Gulf off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The islands are approximately 24 km from Saudi Arabia and 28 km from Qatar.
The total area of the islands included in the archipelago is 780 km2, which is slightly more than the area of Singapore (715 km2). The area of the largest island of the same name to the state is 590 sq. km, about three quarters of the total area of the state. The island stretches 48 km from north to south, and in the widest, northern part, 6 km from west to east.
Life in Bahrain is particularly exotic. The Kingdom of Bahrain is the smallest island state in the Arabian Gulf in southwestern Asia. The capital of the state is Manama. The kingdom is connected to Saudi Arabia by a road bridge. Most of the country is occupied by a desert plain.
If you are planning a move to Bahrain, we will try to familiarize yourself with a number of important aspects such as cost of living and possible difficulties that international relocation often presents. With proper preparation and attention to detail, you can avoid them.
What everyone should know when moving to Bahrain?
It’s no secret that the sharp decline in oil prices has led to Bahrain’s focus on the tourism industry and tangibly curbing the flow of emigrants. Alas, this was due to the need to combat terrible unemployment.
Bahrain’s daily life was hit hard by the results of the Arab Spring. Rallies, protests and riots can be observed to this day, so emigrants should be especially careful and circumspect in crowded places. Visitors are advised to listen carefully to the news, observe state security measures.
Don’t live in the past and gradually get used to the current state of affairs. Bahrain is no longer the most liberal state in the entire Persian Gulf. The country will require a lot of patience, skill and readiness for unexpected turns from the emigrant. Regardless of where you are moving from, Bahrain will certainly surprise you with the peculiarities of culture and mentality.
Looking at the history of this trading nation, it can be traced that emigrants from all over the world flocked to the former British colony for centuries. The unemployment rate and the impressive flow of emigrants have led to the fact that the country’s leadership has more than once had to take tough measures to cut jobs and raise tax rates for newcomers.
Given the limited reserves of minerals, the state resorted to oil refining activities based on the import of crude oil. Over time, Bahrain acquired the status of one of the Middle Eastern financial epicenters, thereby pushing Beirut off the podium.
It is noteworthy that the emergence of new prospects and financial opportunities did not protect Bahrain from a sharp recession and unrest. Evidence of this is the Bahrain uprising, which thundered all over the world in 2011.
The basis for a safe and fast move is being well prepared. In order to move to Bahrain, you should think about employment in advance, take care of knowing at least English for starting work in the service sector. Visa processing is carried out at the Bahrain Embassy and does not take much time.
Manama is Bahrain’s financial epicenter
The vast majority of emigrants move to Manama, the capital of Bahrain, located on the northern part of the island. According to the results of the 2015 census, the population of Manama is close to 158,000 inhabitants, which makes it the largest city in the country.
More than 200 large financial companies and institutions, the International Islamic Financial Market, and the International Islamic Ratings Agency are concentrated in Manama. For this reason, Manama received the official status of the economic center of the Persian Gulf.
A number of international organizations conduct critical operations in Manama and provide jobs for expatriates coming to Bahrain. As the capital of the country, the city is home to representatives of foreign diplomacy and has a highly developed infrastructure.
Kingdom pricing policy overview
Before planning your migration or trip to Bahrain, it is worth considering that prices in Bahrain are quite high.
The cost of food in Bahrain is generally reasonable, especially if one gives up the temptation to dine outside and chooses to eat more often at home. That being said, prices for household goods from abroad will be high, while fresh and local produce is extremely affordable.
The state has poorly developed public transport, and taxi rides can cost a fortune. Food and alcohol are expensive. For example, the average price of a bottle of red wine is $ 17.64. For a 3-course lunch for two in a regular cafe, you will have to pay up to $ 33.93.
A little cheaper are the products on the local market. The most expensive one will have to pay for chicken meat (about $ 5.43 per 1 kg), prices for other products are acceptable.
Accommodation will be the biggest expense for expats and costs have increased in recent years; many landlords actively ignore the cap on annual increases.
However, there are many different housing options available to suit just about any budget. Real estate inside expatriates is by far the most expensive. In contrast, choosing an apartment in the city will cost less.
Very high rental value of the property. So, a 1-room apartment in the city center will cost about $ 678.50 / month, outside the city – $ 542.80 / month.
Entertainment is also expensive. For example, a ticket to a cinema will cost $ 6.79 per person on average. It should be noted that the reviews of many tourists contain complaints about the greed of local residents.
Visitors to the island are advised to specify the price of a product or product several times. Surprisingly, after three clarifications of the price, sellers can reduce it by almost two times.
In general, the locals are complacent about the tourists and guests of Bahrain. The main thing is to abide by the rules of conduct, local traditions and not hesitate to bargain. Then a visit to the kingdom will be a pleasant rest in all respects.
Standards of living in Bahrain, Manama
The cost of living in Bahrain is constantly increasing due to inflation, as well as due to the growing number of Western expats willing to pay more for goods and services.
However, compared to other regional commercial hubs such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Bahrain is still a sane place when it comes to balancing your budget and putting the extra into your bank account.
In the 2019 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Manama, the capital and largest city in the country, ranked 57th out of 209 cities. However, as with all other places, the cost of living can vary greatly depending on the lifestyle a person chooses.
In the past, accommodation and car premiums have been a common addition to Bahrain expat employment packages. However, in recent years, this tactic has lost its popularity, so it is very important to make sure that the basic payment plan adequately covers these and then some of the costs.
Although recent policies have been aimed at limiting the number of foreign workers in Bahrain, they still enjoy some benefits; for example, expats can expect to keep their entire paycheck as disposable income. A salary of 900 to 1000 BHD ($ 2,400 to $ 2650) is enough to comfortably support a couple.
With that salary, you should be able to rent a 2-bedroom house, pay utilities, and cover groceries and additional costs. It is a rare thing for expats who move to Bahrain for a few years to save money and gain international experience.
Transport cost in Bahrain
Despite the island’s compact size, public transport options are limited, requiring most expats to invest in a private car. Keep in mind, that prices vary greatly depending on a number of factors. Used old brands and models will be reduced in price accordingly.
Likewise, transportation also usually doesn’t cost much (which makes sense given that the region is rich in oil). Thus, a one-way ticket on public transport costs $ 0.80, while a monthly pass is only $ 37.13. Taxi fares range from $ 2.65 – 5.30 on average per trip.
School fees in Bahrain
When expat families move to Bahrain, they consequently send their children to one of the island’s private or public schools. These can be large unforeseen expenses, especially for expats from countries where the costs of education are covered or subsidized by the government.
Tuition fees may vary depending on the school age of the children and the school chosen. Expatriates sending their children to an international school may need to pay tuition fees annually to the budget. Additional expenses may include extracurricular activities, uniforms, textbooks, and other basic school supplies.
If you move to Bahrain, you will most likely spend most of your income on living.
These costs are generally higher for foreigners than for the local population as they pay 10% rental tax and are not allowed to buy property. Just like all tenants, expats must be willing to pay a deposit for 2-3 months of rent.
Logically, these costs vary greatly depending on location and type of residence. Renting a two-room apartment typically costs between $ 530.49 – 1326.23 per month in urban areas, but $ 397.87 – 994.67 in rural areas.
On the other hand, a 3-bedroom apartment in the city is likely to cost between $ 1326.23 – 2121 compared to $ 795.74 – 1724.10 outside the city.
Although renting is the most expensive part of life in Bahrain, the construction boom has led to an increase in property supply and high vacancy rates. As a result, rental prices have dropped and foreigners have more options to choose from.
It is also difficult to generalize about utility costs as they are highly dependent on your home and lifestyle. However, to give you an idea, the average person living in a standard apartment can expect to pay between $ 132.62 – 185.65 for their basic utilities (e.g. water, electricity, heating, garbage collection), a bill that is usually paid to the landlord and then the state, with these sectors being state-owned.
Bahrain customs and traditions
It should be noted right away that the majority of Bahraini residents profess Islam, and therefore the way of life on the island is appropriate. It is forbidden to eat pork here, to drink alcohol openly. But smoking, although not approved, is officially allowed. All local women of the state follow Islamic traditions and wear a hijab that completely covers the body. The main color of women’s clothing is black. But the traditional men’s clothing – a long robe and cotton trousers.
The rules of conduct for women in the kingdom are slightly softer compared to other Islamic countries. However, it is important to understand that tourists must also comply with local requirements. So, women’s clothing should cover the knees and wrists.
Swimwear should be kept as close as possible, and it is recommended to cover your head with a scarf. However, wearing a headscarf is connected not so much with the requirement of religion as with a very hot climate. In the summer months, the air temperature can reach + 37 ° C, and without a headgear you can get sunstroke.
Men who visit the island must also wear clothing that covers their knees and wrists. However, a shirt with a short sleeve can still be worn, but shorts – in no case. Appearance in a public place in beachwear or sportswear is considered the height of indecency.
When visiting Bahrain, it is important to know that the inhabitants of the state especially respect the tradition of drinking coffee. It usually takes 5 minutes to prepare the drink, and then the relaxation process itself follows.
There are neutral conversations over a cup of coffee. On the island, rose water, cardamom, saffron and other spices are added to this drink of the gods, and therefore it tastes unusual for Europeans and Westerners.
It is important to understand that you cannot refuse the offer to drink coffee – this can offend the owner of the house. You can refuse only after 3 cups.
A common mistake made by guests of the kingdom is behavior during Ramadan. During this period, Muslims refuse to eat and drink during the day and expect the same from all tourists. Quenching your hunger or thirst on the street in Ramadan can be met with disapproval! By the way, during prayer, the worshipers should never be bypassed in front. In addition, you need to take off your shoes before entering the mosque.
One of the most pleasant traditions for guests of the state is the opportunity to bargain. At the same time, bargaining is inappropriate in restaurants and large shopping centers. Elsewhere, the art of knocking down prices is welcome. As tourists who have visited Bahrain note, with the right approach, you can bring down the price of the product several times.
Reasons to move to Bahrain
Bahrain is the most coveted country in the world for different nationalities due to the coexistence of people in an atmosphere of security and tranquility that makes the Kingdom an incubator for everyone.
If you are still thinking about making the decision to move and live in Bahrain in the future, we will provide you with some help to help you solve this problem, showing undeniably compelling reasons for you to live in the pearl of the Persian Gulf.
Ease of finding a residence in Bahrain
Let’s start with the most basic human need, namely shelter. Housing options in the Kingdom of Bahrain are varied, varied and generally available to meet the needs of all social sectors.
The prices for renting apartments in the Kingdom of Bahrain are among the cheapest among all the other states of the Persian Gulf; sales prices are convenient too.
Moreover, the Bahraini government has opened the door for foreign real estate investors to buy properties in so-called freehold zones.
Ten years ago, the government designated a number of territories, including the Durrat Al Bahrain Islands, the Amwaj Islands, Jaffair, Sif and other important areas, for freehold ownership.
The set of real estate rules serving as the backbone of the sector is flexible, aiming to guarantee the rights of all contracting parties, be they owners, tenants or investors.
Cost of living
Life in Bahrain is affordable; For more basic expenses you can think of, check out our article on the cost of living in Bahrain.
The government subsidizes all necessary goods to make them accessible to everyone, including gas, meat and others. The cost of basic services such as electricity, water and the Internet is also relatively low to make these services available to everyone.
State of the art
On the other hand, construction work is underway throughout the kingdom with the aim of improving infrastructure, improving the quality of services offered and expanding the road network.
The change taking place in Bahrain’s real estate business has become apparent. Towers are growing side by side in the central areas, and work is underway on sea reclamation projects such as the Diyar Al Muharrak Islands and similar projects.
Bahrain tops the list of countries in which foreigners choose to live not only because of high wages, but also because of many other factors that positively affect people’s lives, such as its lifestyle, its privileged location, mild weather and its friendly people.
Many immigrants also have an opportunity to find a job and work in Bahrain, in addition to the ability to accommodate personal life and work. Numerous statistics have proven that Bahrain is one of the best countries for emigrants to work and live in.
Taxes will not affect your salary
There is no income tax system like in other countries. However, the government recently introduced a “social security tax,” which is only 1% of your gross salary for 12 months of work.
Bahrain is fun
Taking a vacation in Bahrain or even staying there for the weekend is not a bad choice. Here you can host many recreational activities and wonderful moments with friends or family.
You can go to the movies, stroll through any of its giant shopping malls, stroll the old streets of downtown Manama, visit any of its historic sites or resorts, go diving or eat at any of Bahrain’s great restaurants.
Bahrain’s cultural diversity is also an attraction. In fact, 45% of Bahrain’s population are foreigners from around the world who enjoy living in Bahrain in perfect harmony. This enriches the cultural life of Bahrain and turns it into a large showcase for the different lifestyles of the world.
This is why you can find a variety of restaurants serving different cuisines from America, Asia, Europe and of course Arabic cuisine, art galleries, cultural centers and a unique state of harmony that ties all these cultures together.