Monday, August 17, 2009
17
Much like my Pork Shop post recently, I've decided to blog some information on the cost of living here in Muscat, Oman. It'd be really helpful if anyone can contribute their costs as well.

I live in a 3 bedroom penthouse apartment with a fairly sizeable terrace (great in the winter!). I own 2 cars and a land rover - the landy was bought for RO 925 cash, and one of the two cars is financed with HSBC loans which I chose to do over 12 months. I borrowed RO 4400 for a part-payment of the vehicle and my monthly repayments are RO 400 a month for that.

Now, to specifics:

  • My rent is RO 600 a month.
  • My Water bill each month (based on 2 people and lots of plant watering) is approximately RO 8 a month.
  • Electricity is about RO 10 a month (including summer months with higher AC usage). Note that the Government heavily subsidises power here, and even more so in the Summer.
  • I have an Omantel land-line (which I do not use to make any calls) and it costs me RO 4.900 a month.
  • I have Omantel ADSL 512 Kbps connection and it costs me RO 12 a month + usage up to a maximum monthly amount of RO 42 a month.
  • My loan payments total RO 700 a month (400 for one of the cars, 300 for a furniture loan).
We bought the following furniture: King size bed + mattress, end tables, coffee tables, TV table, 32" LCD, 42" Plasma, kettle, toaster, plates, knifes and forks and kitchen stuff, gas bottles, bbq, desk, chairs, 3+2+1 sofa set, rugs, artwork, dining room table, washing machine, Electric oven/ gas hob (try baking with a gas oven here... very difficult), 2 fridges and a chest freezer. All of this is serviced by the monthly loan we have (due to finish very soon...!). For those that are unsure of their length of stay here and want to factor in risk in purchasing furniture, there is an outfit in town that rents house-hold furniture, and even offers a rent to own mechanism too. Packages can start from about RO 128/month for a 3-bedroom house to be kitted out. The company is called Home Essentials.

We shop for groceries at a few different stores, but our average monthly spend is approximately RO 250 for the two of us. We're from the Western world and have what I'd imagine is a "Western" diet. We eat a lot of chicken and beef - but don't eat rice and daal very frequently. Fresh fruit and vegetables are high on our diet lists as well. We shop at the following stores: Carrefour, The Sultan Center, Al Fair (Unfair), LuLu's and Al Hamadi Fisheries (the fabulous pork place).

Car insurance is based upon (usually) 5% of the value of your car. For example, if your car is worth RO 10,000, your insurance premium will be approximately RO 500 a year - more or less. They do accept No-Claims bonus letters if you bring one from your home country - it will reduce your premiums.

For furniture here in Oman, you have a few options: There is The Home Center here which caters to the upper-market sector of people living here. A 3 piece sofa set can easily cost up to RO 700 and beyond. A 6 seater dining table easily around RO 400. And so on. We chose to drive to IKEA in Dubai and bought a bunch of stuff there (bed, tables, desk, chair, kitchen stuff) and drove it back. We bought a mattress here from Raha Oman and we're not overly happy with it, but it's been OK I guess. It only cost RO 70. There are other furniture places dotted around town that specialize in various types of furniture. A new comer to the furniture scene is Pan Furniture situated in Al Khuwair in the Zakher Mall. There is also ID Design, Fahmy Furniture, Khimjis Bait Al Ahlam amongst many others.

Satellite TV package costs RO 8-24 a month, depending on the provider and bouquet you choose. English speaking networks available are:

Orbit (Badr 25.5), Showtime (Nilesat), DSTV/Multichoice (Pan-am Sat) DSTV is not legally allowed to be received here. To get DSTV (Which has South African television - best sports coverage around) you will need a larger dish. Orbit and Showtime can be received with a simple small dish.

Cars in Oman.

There are basically four options: new, used, rented or taxi's.

New cars are, depending on the model, comparatively priced with the same brands accross the globe. Toyota's are king here, and tend to hold their value the best. You can buy a Toyota Yaris for approximately RO 4500 and sell it 3 years later for about RO 2500 - give or take. Buying used cars can be a difficult experience, and there's three main ways to go about it:

1
buy a used car from the dealer (eg MHD Landrover will have used Landy's for sale).

2
is to go to a used car dealer (best cars Oman is, in my opinion, a waste of time unless you want a used Toyota) - there are many used car dealers dotted around, but there's especially quite a few along the Sultan Qaboos highway in the Ghubra area. Be careful though, some of these dealers have a reputation for importing flood damaged cars from the USA and selling them for huge profits, buyer beware.

3 is the notice boards, Al Fair, The Sultan Center and a few other places have notice boards where people put up adverts of things to sell. Look at the ad, call the number, kick the tyres, strike a deal.

Cars can be rented here in Oman from approximately RO 150 a month. A reasonable price, for, say, a Mazda 6, is about RO 225 a month. If you want, you can even rent BMW's and Mercs, but obviously you will pay a lot for it!

Taxis come in 3 flavours: Blue and Red metered taxis (but they're only interested in taking you from your hotel to the airport or vice versa) and they are very expensive. You can flag down an orange and white taxi pretty much anywhere in Oman. I've often joked that if I were lost and stuck in the middle of the desert, I'd pretty much expect to find a taxi before long. They are literally everywhere. However, taxi's are not metered here, and prices are generally agreed upon before you start. At the risk of sounding racist here, if you look "Western" then you're going to pay significantly more than if you were of another racial group. Finally there are the Baiza buses which charge up and down Sultan Qaboos highway and have a general fee of 100bz per round about.

Alcohol in Oman.

When you come here and apply for your Resident Card, one thing you must mention is your religion. If you are a Muslim, you will not be eligible for the liquor license. Alcohol can be purchased in licensed bars by anyone - regardless of religion. The cost of a pint of beer ranges from 800bz at the PDO recreation club to RO 3.000 at most of the 5* hotels. A glass of wine can cost up to RO 3.000 for house brands and (a lot) more for others.

You can purchase, from the ROP, a blue liquor license booklet. You will pay an up-front fee for a license that lasts 24 months, and you may purchase alcohol from one of the alcohol supply shops dotted around. A case of beer ranges from RO 9 for a case of Castle, RO 12 for a case of Heineken and RO 15 for a case of Corona. A bottle of Smirnoff Red Vodka is about RO 6, and bottles of wine start at RO 3 and the price goes up from there. One thing to note is that the license you purchase will have a monthly spending limit, restricting you to only be able to purchase alcohol up to a maximum value in any given month (in the take-home shops). The higher your license value you can go is based on your salary. The one-time up-front fee is based on the value of your license. I'd suggest that if you like a few drinks, to get a higher license than you think you need - its purely up to you.

As a final point, I will note that in order to lead a comfortable life here as a "Western" expatriate where you are required to provide your own housing and transportation, a total monthly package should not be less than RO 2,500 a month. I am not a recruitment specialist and so can't advise you on what salary you should expect to get working here, so please don't ask me.

Hope this helps!

le fin

17 comments:

Angry In Oman said...

This is a really great post Sythe, really good work buddy!

Used furniture can also be found on the notice boards at Al Fair and The Sultan Center, though I went and looked at some once, the man ended up hounding me, calling me asking me when I was coming back to buy it even though I made it clear that I was not interested while at his house.

So annoying...

Nadia said...

Great post. Very useful. I'm copying a link to people I know because so many people ask me about cost of living in Muscat, and I can't tell because Salalah is much cheaper. You're very lucky to pay only 600 for rent. Most places now are over 1000, especially if they're closer to the centre of town. Location matters. Very much.

Don't forget to mention pets! If you have a dog, you're only allowed to walk it between 10 a.m and 3 p.m everyday! Totally weird.

scarlet pimpernel said...

Every day at 6.30 am , i see a blind western lady with her lead dog outside the airports heights complex opposite the new rop buildings

scarlet pimpernel said...

Great Post Mr.Sythe ,
We asian expats can round everything up in a much lesser package i guess .I am not implying here that westerners are paid more or asians are paid less. But asians manage to squeeze our baizas a little more harder

scarlet pimpernel said...

Mr.Sythe ,

Where can i find a used harley ?

boxster said...

a 3-bed penthouse with a terrace for OMR600 is a good deal in my book.

Fantastic post, thanks a lot!

Sythe said...

AIO: thanks for adding that, in fact you can buy all sorts off the supermarket notice boards. I've even seen time shares for places in Bali on them before.

Nadia: I have a pet, brought him with me, I had to pay a Vet here (Al Qurum Veterinary Clinic) a ton of money just to rubber stamp my pet's entrance into the country. That law about walking dogs between 10-3 seems to be completely ignored, but you are right, it is a valid law. Thank you for the link :)

Scarlet pimpernel: Yes, you can squeeze the baiza's tighter, I've found that over 2 years here I've become better at squeezing my money. For instance, we buy almost all of our fruit and veg at LuLu's because its much cheaper there. We buy frozen strawberries instead of fresh (we have strawberry banana smoothies in the mornings for breakfast) and we've got the cost per smoothie down to below 250bz now, which is great. I actually think I know someone who's looking to flog one of their hog's.... and I think I saw one advertised on the MQ Unfair board last week too. You can always stop by the Harley Davidson showroom in Al Khuwair off Dohat Al Adab St. - they sometimes have used bikes there too.

Boxter: It used to be 550, then after a year the landlord illegally raised it to 600, and now at the end of September, it's going to 650. I pay it because I do not want to go through the hassle of moving somewhere else, and the terrace is so perfect in the winter, and my commute is 5 minutes - I am not a morning person.

scarlet pimpernel said...

Mr.Sythe

The land lord can hike his rent up to 7% only and that too once in every 3 year only. Thats the omani law, there is a column in the week magazine written by a lady about omani laws.The last weeks article was about landlords and tenants and stuff read that.
How much is your friend asking for his HD ?

Sythe said...

I am very much aware of the law, but what am I going to do? 50R extra a month is irritating, but he already said he'd move his family in instead. Sometimes you just have to take the rough with the smooth.

scarlet pimpernel said...

Yup

Muscato said...

Actually, the dog-walking regulation, although it was published, has never been enforced. I remember hearing that, after futher discussion, the municipality simply encouraged pet owners to be thoughtful, to keep their dogs leashed, and to clean up after them.

scarlet pimpernel said...

Well if anyone happen to be in the ghala dhaakil area .. just drive in to any of the many labour camps there, you will be amazed at the number of stray dogs.

Mostly Clueless said...

Very informative. If you're planning a part 2, you could add - typical school fees, cost of eating out, ease of getting a driving licence.....
Like the big mac index, i normally use the price of a haricut to compare cost of living in diff places.

Vinay said...

Thanx for the information

akku said...

Date :Jul 2010.
Dear All Can you please suggest me the cost of living in Muscat for Family of 5 ( Self, spouse, 2 kids ( 12 & 10 yrs) and mother).
1) Furnished 3 bedroom (near City Center)
2) School fees, stationary, pvt tution and Buses
3) Monthly Avg Food/ Grocery Expenditure ( Veg)
4) Maid
5) Electricity / Water Charges
6) Pool Transport / Bus / Pvt Taxi
7) Avg Mobile Charges
8) Avg Internet Charges
9) Avg Sattelite Connection ( Cable TV etc)
10) Avg Leisure ( eg once a week family outing for dinner & movie etc to near by malls)
11) Once a Quarter Muscat -Del – Muscat flight for 5
12) Avg salary for CA with 14 years of experience
Please suggest
Regards

murphylee said...

Great post indeed, please tell us more about the kind of schools for graduate programs, is work study obtainable, the fees, payment pattern, visa process and general social life in Muscat. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Great post, although I have been in Muscat for almost two weeks I could not get to such information till I found this post, thank you.

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