Living Abroad is the best experience you can have in your lifetime. I’ve gotten many questions about my time in Qatar, so I wanted to share my experience.
Living Abroad Q&A: Qatar
1. Where did you live?
I lived in Qatar for a year from Summer 2014 – 2015
2. What did you do before moving?
Before I moved I was a year out of college and experiencing the workforce – which drove me to do something different.
3. What work did you do there?
I worked in Recruiting at an international school called Doha College. The best job I’ve had in a long time.
4. What did a typical day look like for you?
My day started at 7AM when I had to be at work until 2PM. After work, I would go to CrossFit classes the days I didn’t have to attend my Arabic classes. If I wasn’t doing either I would go hang out with friends or go to the mall.
5. Why did you choose the place?
I actually grew up in the Middle East (Bahrain) for 12 years, so going back to live there was exciting for me.
6. What did you love about living there?
Qatar is very different from Bahrain, more conservative which I was not as prepared for. However, I still loved living there and meeting other expats. I will say as a single woman it is difficult to met people especially if you are not working at a school.
7. What are the local people like?
One reason I went was so I could learn Arabic. I pushed myself to interact with the locals and try to learn the language, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the response I hoped for. They would either respond back in English or just be rude, especially the kids. However, not everyone had a negative response, only a few I came across.
8. What is it like to live in the place as an expat/ foreigner?
It’s a big adjustment, you’re not in your comfort zone anymore. You have to be willing to learn their culture and customs. In Qatar, Women had to cover up which means no shorts or tanks – this being the norm in the States it took some getting use to. You get to learn more about yourself and what you can handle.
9. What is the cost of living per month?
Living in Qatar can be expensive, depending on where you work they provide accommodation allowance. An apartment is around 6,000 to 8,000 QAR per month (1,650 -2,200 USD) – or 13,000 QAR per month (3,570 USD) for a house.
10. What’s the availability of short term accommodation?
Yes, there is availability for short term accommodation, you are able to rent out the condos at the hotels which a lot of expats do. How much you pay for accommodation depends on where you want to live. If you are an expat I would suggest being in the area where most of the expats are and that is West Bay. You will end up paying 6,000 – 7,000 QAR a month. Most sponsored jobs do help pay for accommodation.
11. Do you need a visa? If so how long can you stay in the country for?
Yes, upon arrival at Doha International Airport you have to purchase a 30-day tourist visa (100QAR ∼ $27). If you are looking to work in Qatar, you will need to get sponsored by a company. As women, it is more different to get sponsored if you are not working as a teacher or a flight attendant.
12. How safe is the city?
It is safe for the most part, I did feel safe when I went out on my own during the day and night. I would just recommend being aware of your surroundings because the majority of the people living in Qatar are men.
13. What has been your experience in connecting/attempting to connect with other expats while abroad?
I made friends with people through daily activities like at work or outings. I would say before traveling or moving to any country, try and join a meetup group so you can start making friends, and see what events/activities you have an interest in attending.
Meetup.com is a great place to start, and it is widely used all over the world. There is a huge expat community in Qatar.
14. Are there any other good places to travel to close by?
Yes, there are a lot. You can go to Dubai for really cheap, Sri Lanka, Vietnam etc.
15. Any other advice/tips for someone who might want to live there?
As we all know life is short, and if we keep making excuses to not broaden our horizons we are never going to feel complete. The most important thing is your safety, make sure you are keeping in touch with your family and friends back home. If you do move on your own, just know that you’re never alone – Join groups to connect with other expats.