Cost of living: 2010 update

For a general break-down on furniture shopping, groceries, alcohol, and a few others, please read my article from last year on the cost of living here.

Muscat is a large area, and depending on where you are working, you will most likely want to live in a particular area. This map is the best online map resource I can recommend, and it has helped me countless times. This is not an exhaustive list of all the residential area's within Muscat, and please comment if I've forgotten a major area frequented by expatriates.

"Central Business District"
This is sometimes referred to as the CBD, or downtown, or city centre. The residential neighbourhoods in this locality are, as a trend, usually occupied by people of Asian decent. There are not many Villa's available here, but there are plenty of flats. 1, 2, 3 or 4 bedroom apartments are commonly found here, and prices for a 1 bedroom apartment can start as low as RO 200 a month. Many people also choose to co-habit and rent just a room in an apartment here. CBD is considered as the following areas: Muttrah, Darsait, Ruwi, Wadi Kabir & Hamriyah.

Qurum runs from the PDO camp along the coast up until the Wizarat area where many Ministry and Embassy buildings are. It is one of the most popular residential locations, and apartments are hard to find in this area (except at Bareeq Al Shatti). Rental for Villa's can range from RO 1500 - 6000 a month, depending on where exactly you want to live. There are many 5* hotels in this area, complete with bars, restaurants and night clubs. There's a cinema, the Beach road (nice to walk, have coffee). Shopping area's are in abundance: The CCC Complex (contains Al Fair, and recently renamed the Al Qurum Complex), The Sabco Centre and associated commercial buildings around it, the Qurum City Centre (containing Carrefour), The Jawharat Al Shatti shopping complex, The Al Harthy Complex (contains The Sultan Centre), the Al Masa Mall and also the Sarooj Centre (containing Al Fair)

Al Ilam
Al Ilam sits between Qurum and Medinat Qaboos (MQ). It is not on the coast, and is considered an upscale neighbourhood. There are not many apartments available for rent here, but many Villas. Rents start at around RO 1100 and range up to RO 2500 per month. It is very close to Qurum City Centre, MQ, and Al Khuwair.

Medinat Qaboos (MQ)
MQ is the original spot where Western ex-pats live. There is the British School Muscat, and the American British Academy located here. There's a wide range of both Apartments and Villa's available here, with rents starting around RO 700 - RO 3000 depending on what you are looking for. There is an Al Fair supermarket in the shopping centre in the middle of MQ. Also, of note, there are 4 or 5 alcohol retail outlets, and the popular Mexican restaurant, Pavo Real. Other restaurants of note here are Silk Route and Kargeens.

Al Khuwair
Al Khuwair is next to MQ, and fronts onto Qurum, Wizarat and Ghubra. Al Khuwair has a good split of apartments and Villa's and is an area lived in by people from all walks of life, but is very popular with Indians. There is the Zakher Mall and the very popular service road for retail elements. Supermarkets are a plenty, LuLu's, Safeer supermaket and Rawasco. Rents can start as low as RO 200 and up to RO 1500.

Bowsher is a large area, predominately with nothing in it. It's mainly Villa's and is where you will find the Muscat Private Hospital, and the Sultan Qaboos Sports Compelx. It also houses the TAISM school. Rents are usually for Villa's, all though a few apartments are starting to come on to the market, Villa's can be rented for RO 800 - RO 1800.

Ghala is the industrial hub of the city. It is where there are many ware-houses, labour camps and Contractors HQ's are. Most of the manufacturing that occurs in Muscat, occurs here. However, this area has been slated for redevelopment and will become the "downtown" of Muscat in the coming years. The Bank Muscat HQ is now complete, Ministries are starting to build their offices here, Muscat Hills (and it's golf course) is now open, and the Convention Centre site are all to be located here. There are currently no main-stream supermarkets here. It's hard to price rents here, but small apartments can be rented right now at Muscat Hills for RO 850 a month.

Ghubra is a lot like Al Khuwair, but has some coast line. Villa's here can be rented from RO 1200 - 1800, and apartments can be rented for as low as RO 350 for a 2 bedroom. There is a 24 hour supermarket there, called Al Maya, and a supermarket called Mars. There are many other shops to be found here, particularly carpentry and drapery shops.

Azaiba is next down the coast from Ghubra and is fast becoming a popular hit with Western expatriates. Rents for Villa's range from RO 1000 - 2000. There is a large Horizon Fitness gym, and a branch of The Sultan Centre supermarket, and also a Safeer Hypermarket. Many people living here are working either in Qurum, or the Airport area, as this is a convenient "half-way" point (but Azaiba does butt-up to the Airport land, and Ghubra is also popular for people working in either area).

Al Hail, Seeb, Mawaleh
I've bunched these three together because they're all the same really. Al Hail is home to the popular The Wave development, and is literally minutes from the airport and Muscat City Centre (contains Carrefour), and also the Markez Al Bahja mall (contains a cinema and Al Fair). Rents here are generally cheaper due to the fact they are so far out from town, but rents in The Wave are amongst the highest in Muscat. Commute times to Qurum from Mawaleh in the morning rush hour are easily over an hour if that is an indication. However, one can rent a villa here for as little as RO 650 - it's just the commute that is hard - not such a problem if you are working at the airport though!

Estate Agents
Here's a list of estate agents in town that can help you find a rental property:

Gulf Property World
Taif Real Estate
Engel & Volkers
Hilal Properties

Banking in Oman, much like the rest of the region, is fairly frustrating. Most landlords want their rent paid up front - be it 12 months, 6 months or 3 months and so you may need to take a loan early on to pay for this. Consider yourself very lucky if you get to pay your rent monthly.

There are quite a few banks here, and let me stress that they are all terrible. I personally use HSBC, because everyone in my office uses them, and my company banks with them. I would not trust them to do anything but peel a banana for me (because I firmly believe they are staffed by monkeys).

Here is a list of banks here in Oman:

Bank Muscat
National Bank of Oman
Bank Sohar
Oman International Bank
Bank Dhofar

There are a few more, but these are the biggest ones. I believe Bank Muscat has the most branches.

There are a lot of schools here in Oman, and here's a list of them (thanks to Muscati for compiling it on the very useful Oman Forum). Fee's can be quite high - TAISM for example is over RO 7850 per year for a child in grades 9-12. There are also waiting lists - so do not delay getting on the waiting list once you know you are going to need schooling here.

sh School Muscat

Ecole Francaise de Mascate

Sultan's School

Azzan bin Qais


Indian Schools: Darsait, Ghubra, Wadi Kabir
Pakistan School
Egyptian School

British School Salalah

Al Batinah International School

Telecommunications here in Oman has been improved dramatically in the last few years. There are two main players in the market, Omantel and Nawras. There are a few niche market mobile phone operators, such as Friendi and Renna, but I've not used their services (however their neworks are leased from Omantel's).

Omantel services are:
Fixed line phone over copper - RO 4.900 a month plus usage - calls within Oman (to land lines) are free.
ADSL (Speeds range from 512 kbps - 8MB for residential customers)
Mobile phone service - 3G (And just pioneering 4G as well) (Contract and PAYG)
3G Mobile internet

Nawras offer:
Fixed line phone over Wimax (VOIP product) - recently launched, can be as little as RO 15 a month with a 1MB internet account (6GB of usage) + cost of calls
Wireless internet over Wimax (speeds up to 5MB)
Mobile phone service - 3G (Contract and PAYG)
3G Mobile internet.

Both offer blackberry plans, as well as data plans for smart phones.

At a glance costs
A loaf of bread - RO 0.500
A litre of fuel - RO 0.120
A litre of milk - RO 0.700
4 chicken breasts (boneless) - RO 1.850
A Mcdonalds meal - RO 2.000
A news paper - RO 0.100
A 6pack of Pepsi/Coke - RO 0.650
A pint of beer in a 5* Bar - RO 2.700
Interest on a personal loan - 8%
A KG of local tomato's - RO 0.330
A KG of Holland tomato's - RO1.925
A 5KG sack of rice - RO 1.500
A 1.5KG bag of flour - RO 0.520
A large Water Cooler bottle - RO 1.000
A 250g pack of frozen bacon - RO 1.900
A case of Heineken - RO 13.000

I hope that helps. I welcome comments, but please do not ask a question such as, "I've been offered a job doing X for RO X per month - is this a fair salary". I'll only ignore them.

le fin.
Cost of living: 2010 update Cost of living: 2010 update Reviewed by Sythe on Saturday, July 31, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. That was a comprehensive and informative posting, Sythe. Just wanted to let you know that there is Indian School Muscat (ISM) as well, which sometimes people confuse with Indian School Darsait.
    Great work!

  2. Hi, I'm currently in the process of moving, and I think you've estimated a little high on the rents being charged at the mo. Aziaba 4/5 bed semi detached villas are going for 700-750, and in Gubrah the same would put you back 800 rials.

    Other than that, really helpful post! : )

  3. There ARE a few expats that live in Mutrah recently. That IS a new trend, since there aren't exactly that many villas to rent. I found a extensive flat (i.e entire top half of a villa there) for 500 OMR, and most apartments run waaaaay cheaper. But beware old buildings, old wiring, ect... LOUDEST DAMN ac's you've ever encountered. But if you like rustic charm (the Omani houses still often have their original wood and palm frond roofs.

    [No I don't live in Mutrah anymore lol, BUT I DID once, and did love it, beyond the plumbing, the AC, and the electricity when it rains LOL].

  4. This is a really good post! Thanks for the info, I am sure a lot of expats will find it to be very useful! You are right about Al Ghubra, apartment rent is around 350,but also the best time to rent is around May-June because a lot of expats are leaving the country, and rent rates drop by about 20% in some areas.
    Its good that you didnt go into the costs of those schools that are listed, it would have really shocked people. Education is outrageously expensive in Oman, and it isnt even that brilliant. At least nothing that you cannot get elsewhere...
    The cost of entertaining yourself over the weekend is also quite high... :) But it really is impossible to cover every aspect of daily life, however you got the major ones! Good job!

  5. Good work Sythe.

    You missed that one staple Omani food though - the shawarma! What is the current cost of the cheap roadside offerings or the higher end models in Al Khuwair market area or the like?

    I know that some people in my office used to survive on shawarma in the last days of each month before getting paid.

  6. Good post! This post comes at a good time because a lot of expats have just moved in as well, what with schools opening up or due to. I love the fact that you've taken the trouble to link up all the stuff you have. "Case of Heineken" -- you should know, eh? :)
    Follow it up with a what you can/can't do in Muscat, perhaps? For example, a lot of women don't seem to know that the shortest they can go with a skirt or a pair of shorts is till their knees. Anything else is actually illegal.

  7. Dear Restless Quill, please elaborate on the skirt business...illegal? seriously? I have worn shorts and skirts in Oman half of my life, just yesterday went to carefour in a gorgeous above the knee arrests so far. And have you seen the leftbank/zouk/trader vics crowd? They dont seem to be that concerned with doing jail time either. Is it just a taboo, or is there an actual law?

  8. Nice post Sythe - cheers for the update & all the hard work :)

  9. Nice post as always sythe, 24 can case of heineken costs OMR 11.800 if you buy from MAS.

  10. Olga K: Ex-pat frequented places (ie anywhere with alcohol) length of skirt (and cleavage) isn't an issue to anyone, Omani guys, or Omani girls (since, hehehe, we are not supposed to be there, realistically). Sooooo going to RockBottom, TraderVics, Copacabana, Shangrila, hotels in general and anywhere with a bar, Zouq ect, it really doesn't matter.

    But you shouldn't really wear such things to Carrefour out of respect for the covered wives of the disrespectful dudes that stare at you lol.

    Oman has no religious police but it is looked down upon. ALOT. It is seen as insulting to anyone caring about modesty ect.

  11. Are taxis very expensive. how much do they cost

  12. I need to know what will be cost of 1 BHK in CBD Area and RUWI

  13. Thanks for the comments everyone, always nice to hear from you lot.

    The rates I've put down for rents are indicative only, it's not a hard-fact.

    Shawarmera's range in price, as far as I know, from 100 bz to 1.2 rials (for the fabulous Sarook from Al Tarboosh!).

    Taxis are not metered. Agree the price before you get in, expect to get ripped off.

    To the anonymous poster from 11:43 am on August 6th - did you even READ the article? CBD is Ruwi, and expect to pay around RO 200.

    There was a Royal Decree stating people can wear whatever they want. Now the logical thing to do is just be cognisant of where you are, and respect the predominant local religious beliefs and dress appropriately.

  14. extra though because I am bored and have nothing to do but internet at the moment: One of my Omani friends from a very conservative village near Nizwa (men are discouraged from wearing anything other than white dishdasha there as coloured ones are too racy) hosted a French twenty-something wearing nothing but shorts and a bikini top through his village. Itwasn't culturally sensitive so people didn't love it but no one had bad manners to say anything ect.. Oman, like you said, has no religious laws dictating dress. Nor does Islam for any one who is not Muslim. Despite Saudi and Iran REALLY giving us bad names on the dress issue. But it is a cultural respect thing.

    In Canada, my home country, I don't wear a black veil with black head abaya because it weirds people out when there are compromises that don't hurt me in the least in the way of dress, to be modest but not "scary and foreign". LOL. Though I HAVE been tempted to. Just to see what would happen.

    Same when I was a non-Muslim here in Oman. Except for one unfortunate day at Lulus, I tried not to wear anything too too skimpy.

    And mmmmmmm Al Tarboosh, my dinner tonight.

  15. hi pls let me know this.Iam an EEE graduate with 1 year experience and iam planning to look for job in Oman.Wat may be the compensation package that i can look for to negotiate if i get an offer in an substation and transmission company

  16. This is not the place to ask that question. Try a recruitment company.

  17. love the post, love the site.... well done :)

  18. Hi,
    we are planning to move to muscat. our daughter needs glutenfree diet, do you where glutenfree food is available?
    Blue Ocean

  19. Blue Ocean -

    Glutenfree foods are available, but in what quantity I do not know. I've seen specialist foods available in LuLu's, The Sultan Centre, and occasionally Al Fair.

    I would not bank on a reliable supply of glutenfree foods from any of the supermarkets though. It's not something I've paid much attention to because I don't need it. I'll keep my eyes open and will let you know - please email me at mrsythe *at* and I'll get back to you with my findings.

    A good question to ask, thanks for asking.

  20. Excellent and useful info on cost of living. Thank you.
    I was in Oman around 5 years ago and it doesnt seem that cost of living (other than rent!) has gone up too much, which is good to know.

  21. Maybe you can add to your list of Estate Agents. They have more than 2000 properties and private sellers can post for free.
    (actually it is not an agent, just a search portal for properties in Oman)

  22. It's definitely important to know the cost of living today. Thanks for the update.

    virtual office makati

  23. I used to rent in Makati, a CBD in the Philippines, and I found the cost of living there fine enough.

    about the cost of living in BARKA.

    ARE THERE accomodations available?
    i got a job in OMAN BARKA.

    kindly help with basic details

  25. Nowadays, people tend to be practical. I believe that's a good move because of the cost of living. I hope you update us constantly.

    luxury home builders

  26. Im looking to try and find a job teaching english as a foreign language, be it in a private or public school but can anyone advise me on 2 points...1, are there many private language schools in Muscat and 2, would it be wise to just fly to Muscat and continue my search there? Would really appreciate any thoughts!

  27. It's a good thing that you didn't look into the list of school cost. Education today is very expensive especially in Oman.
    makati office space for rent

  28. Muscat Real EstateMarch 21, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Thank you for sharing your comprehensive experience of living in Muscat. it seems to have both advantages and some disadvantages for foreigners to live there. i think it would be better for anyone think to move threre is to search about good Muscat real estate to be safe and secure.

  29. Great stuff from youR , man. Ive read your stuff before and youre just too awesome. I love what youve got here, love what youre saying and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. I cant wait to read more from you. This is really a great blog.

  30. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  31. i was an ex student of indian school darsait, and i think just having latest gadgets and fancy equipments does not make any school a GOOD school. The quality of teachers is very poor in this school, and if you are not a bright south indian geeky kid, then god save you. I was a weak student and instead of getting extra help, sadly i was only run down and always humiliated and even beaten up despite being a girl by teachers from this school, this school did nothing for my confidence level. luckily i moved to bombay where the school i joined was so simple, had no air condition but yet such warm teachers, i then started re gaining my confidence and am now proud to say that i am a sucessful business woman. Yet i cannot put my miserable days in ism behind but i definitely can save and help other young kids from going through the humiliation i went through. To all the parents there in the gulf, looking to put your kids in the indian school, please do some research and teach your kids NOT to put up with any phisical abuse from anyone.

  32. the map of oman is confusing me. where is the city in oman which is like dubai and abudhabi of UAE? i was offered a job in muscat oman, i dont know where it is. Is it a populated part of oman or deserted one? Am i going to a place where there is life or pure boredom? please inform me ahead. thanks!

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