January 6th 2012
This is a sort of diary culled from letters home regarding my personal experiences with moving to Doha, Qatar.
It’s surprising how often our expectations are different to the reality so I thought this might be helpful for anyone thinking of moving here.
I have been here a week and moved into the villa on Sunday, I found the villa through an advertisement on qatarliving.com. I looked at three place, one was in a luxury tower block in West Bay, a three bedroom flat shared with two other people. The flat had three huge bedrooms, walk in robes and four toilet/bathrooms. A shared kitchen and lounge/dining room. The tower had a huge outdoor pool, restaurant, gymnasiums, laundry/dry cleaning service, car parking and shop. It was very close to City Center shopping mall. Quoted price 5,500 riyal per month which included all power, water, and Internet access.
I decided that, although the apartment was very nice and the flat mates would have been good to share with, I don’t really want to live in West Bay. This is a very modern very “European” area and for me it lacked local colour. I would prefer to stay somewhere with peo-ple from different cultures and to really get a feel for life in a foreign land. We only have one life, I want to experience as much diversity as I can!
I also looked at a flat in a (again very European) compound a little further out of town. Wow! that place was like a luxury resort. Baker, laundry/dry cleaner, games room, mens’ and womens’ gymnasiums, huge lagoon style swimming pool, gated community, security guards, cafe’s restaurants, lots of parking and so on. Again I looked at a share with two other people, this time a semi detached villa. Same sort of amenities but again. too many Europeans for me too much of the same as I could get back home in Australia or the UK. price was around 5,000 riyal all in.
I eventually settled on a villa in a compound near the “D” ring road that circles Doha, about 30 minutes from work and a comfortable walk to the center of the old city and lots of Indian and Arabic shops and restaurants.
I am sharing with a Pakistani gentleman who has worked here for many years and has a 6 bedroom villa to himself. He was looking for someone to share and I have managed to rent three bedrooms, and two full bathrooms (with toilets) for 6,000 riyal per month. My flat mate has been extremely helpful and made me feel very much at home. He is Moslem and has let me know that I can drink at home if “i can’t do without it” and I will see how that goes as, frankly, I could do with some AFDs now and then!
The house is very large and we share the kitchen which is really well appointed with a few refrigerators two 6 six-burner stoves (Mahommed likes the gas, I use the electricity). I am only using one room (its about 9 metres by 5 metres) for my living so the other rooms are just for clothes at the moment until I work out what I want to buy and what can wait until my wife and I find our own place.
Our villa is in a large compound with about 11 others, all three story houses separated by hedges. There is a marble pathway linking them all together and they surround a swimming pool.
I went shopping for the first time yesterday and bought all the necessities, a full range of spices and some cooking gear to supplement what is already in the house, I feel that I am about ready now to cook some staples which I can freeze and feed myself with over time. I will try to mix the home cooking with going out occasionally. You can get awesome Indian food here for less than 10 riyal (about $2.50) for a meal.
There is a huge range of food in the supermarkets, fruit, veg and meat from all over the world and a wider range than I have ever seen anywhere. You cannot buy pork products in the general supermarkets but there is an, expatriates only, store where you can buy pork and drink at prices that aren’t too extortionate.
Bread is surprisingly good although they have an irritating habit of pre-slicing it too thin. Vegetable quality varies depending on where you buy them, some are excellent, others mediocre. Also the supermarkets can run out of things that you wouldn’t expect them ever to run out of – canned tomatoes! (but this is rare).
There are lots and lots of tailor shops around and I had a few shirts made and a suit, just to check it out. Tailor made shirts cost around $30 and the suit (wool) was about $150. I am very pleased with the result.
Well back to work now.
Will update again in a few weeks.
BTW if you work in healthcare and would like to find a role in Doha, Qatar please check out my page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Health-Informatics-Jobs-in-Qatar/245322358882149