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Qatar cost of living

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Kathryn_2404, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter


    Was hoping one of you lovely experienced Qatar dwelling folk may be able to offer some guidance.

    I've recently been offered a job at what I understand to be a good reputable international school in Doha. They have been very open with the salary scale, but it seems I place rather low down it by their rules. It seemed pretty fair and non negotiable to me. Reading previous threads though, the suggestion that any starting salary below 11000/11500QAR is not worth taking is rather worrying to me as I have been offered a little under this and that's slightly above the nqt scale point. I have done my research and figured with the free housing and utilities, taking advantage of ladies nights (I'm guessing these are like the ones in Dubai?), renting a basic car (apparently the school can get good rates) and paying two trips outside the country a year out of my own pocket in addition to the yearly flights, I'd still manage to save some money (I'm single). Like maybe £4-500 a month. Does this seem like pie in the sky?

  2. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, it does seem like a lot of airborne dessert. The housing might be free, but it will be a tad bare. You will need to buy some things. Setting yourself up in a new country is always more expensive than you think that it is going to be.

    "Good rates" is a flexible term, when one is talking about hiring a car. The sensible, practical and long-term solution is to buy a car and not to rent one. If you are only going to be in Doha for a month or two, then by all means rent a car, but otherwise it is going to be a huge hole in your pocket.

    If you are going to be flying off to exotic destinations two or three times a year, then this is also going to be expensive. Even your trip to the UK over the summer is going to cost you a small fortune, although the school will pay the airfare.

    Mrs Hippopotamus used to say that Qatar was cheap when we first arrived, but by the time we left it definitely was not. Okay, petrol is cheap and there is no Council Tax, but quite a lot of things are as expensive if not more expensive than in the UK.

    Of course there might be a solution to all of these problems. It is called "a boyfriend with a good job" and you might find one, with a bit of luck.
  3. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    Thanks Hippo, very helpful. I take your point about the car, I will have to consider buying then. Where's the best place to find a good deal? Preferably from expats who are leaving.
    My two trips shouldn't cost me more than the flight and spending money as I will be staying with family/friends in the UK and in South east Asia where life is cheap. I looked at flights and so long as I book in advance, they're not too bad.

    The housing I've been told is fully furnished and all set up with tv, internet and a welcome pack. I'm sure there will be a few bits and pieces I will need to buy, but I don't anticipate that being a huge expense. Am I missing something here?

    My biggest worry is that it's not as good as it sounds. I have another offer in a certain south east Asian country, that pays a bit less and without the free housing and no tax, but I wonder if my money may go further and buy me a better life. However, the job in Qatar is more helpful to my career. If I'm going to struggle to get by though on what they are willing to pay me, it may not be worth it.
  4. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    Furthermore, the Qatar school are not being very forthcoming with the contract though they want me there immediately. Is this all normal? Or is it likely I am being diddled here?
  5. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    Firstly, the salary you mention is quite low. A decent school would be giving you at least 13,000 as an inexperienced teacher. With more years experience it should be more than this.
    The argument about Asia being cheaper to live in, justifying a lower salary is fine provided saving big bucks isn't a priority for you.
    On the better salaries in the ME you can expect to save £2,000 - £3,000 per month depending upon how frugal you are.
    Secondly don't even consider travelling unless you have signed a contract. They say they want you there immediately? Are they planning on getting you there on a visitors visa and then doing the work visa once you are there? If this is the case then you need to be asking some more questions about this kind of thing. Smacks a bit of car salesmanship "Hello Ms X, here is the salary, we need you here tomorrow if you want to secure the job" translates to "Look darlin' this cars a steal at the price but you better get it soon before it goes" ;)
  6. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Sorry to be a wet blanket, Kathryn2404, but maybe it is better to fear the worst. Yes, you can save some serious cash in Qatar, but you probably will not be able to put aside much in your first year. It is in your second and third year that you will be able to make some real savings. (Remember that you will not be able to pay into the Teacher' Pension fund while you are overseas.)

    Yes, it is true that there are really no taxes in Qatar that are worth mentioning. The bad news is that you need to get yourself registered with the HMRC as "non-resident for the purposes of taxation". If you do not do this, then the Great British Taxman will think that you are living in the UK and so he will want a big slice of your foreign earnings. It used to be quite easy to become non-resident and now things are a bit more complicated and slower, so you will need to talk to a good accountant asap.

    Although it is a few years ago that Mrs H and I were in Doha, I doubt very much whether the prices have gone down at all and I would say that it is quite likely things are more expensive now. Clothes and shoes are cheap, if you buy them in a supermarket, but the fancy boutique shops will charge a fortune. Alcohol is expensive, especially if you drink in the posh hotels and you do not have a booze licence. Eating out can also be very expensive - it certainly is not SE Asia. There are a few cheapie Turkish places.

    As for buying a car, I would check out www.qatarliving.com, an excellent source of info about all things Qatari. If you lease a car for a longer period, then it is possible to get a better deal. However, my guess is that it is still going to set you back somewhere around 2000 QR a month. That is not bad for a month or two, but do this for a year or more and it will be an awful lot of money down the drain. Although you might be lucky and be able to buy a second-hand car for around two or three thousand pounds, you would be taking a big chance. Car repairs can be expensive and usually involve trips to the Industrial Area, somewhere a single gal may not feel happy to go. If you do buy a car, then you will definitely have to go to the Industrial Area to get your car through the technical inspection.

    Driving in Doha is absolutely fine if you are very patient, brave and maybe a bit mad.

    Public transport in Doha is pretty much limited to taxis. (Yes, I have heard of western girls getting on the buses, but some had unpleasant experiences.) Taxis in Doha are cheaper than in the UK, it is true, but they are sometimes hard to find. In Doha, young ladies who stand around on street corners while trying to find a taxi may sometimes have problems. On the other hand, walking is not an option when you have a few bags of shopping and it is more than 40 degrees.

    There are some good schools in Doha and also some horrible ones. Good luck!

    I have sent you my e-mail address and my SKYPE name, if I can be of further help.
    stopwatch likes this.
  7. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    You will need to fill in a P85 form for HMRC to register as non-resident in UK. You can get these on the HMRC website.
  8. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    As usual, some helpful and practical advice from stopwatch.

    I have to say that old stoppers makes a good point about the salary. 11000QR is not so good and why are they trying to get teachers in March? Yes, January might be okay, but not March. It does sound a bit dodgy to me.
  9. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    Thanks Stopwatch, that sounds less complicated than going to an accountant. Just hiring a notary for all the RP paperwork UK side is freaking me out enough!

    The last teacher went at Xmas, and they've taken their time choosing a replacement. I understand that's a common part of the culture out there, probably waiting for the Qatari owners to agree with the management's choice and make a decision, which they do in their own sweet time!

    I am also in need of work and struggling to find it mid year, and in a difficult situation. So this opportunity solves that, initially. Plus like I said, it's beneficial for my career with this particular school. I've already started the paperwork process with the notary who has started to charge me, so all in all I don't feel like I'm in a situation to pull out completely. However, I do find a lot of the things bring said here rather troubling and my suspicions had already been raised. I'm certainly not going anywhere without seeing a contract first and will keep pushing for that. I'm rather surprised though as I know which are the dodgy ones, and this one has a good rep. In my experience dodgy ones won't show you a payscale either. But something seems wrong with this picture and I can't afford to be taken advantage of again.

    Back to costs, I wouldn't plan on shopping in fancy boutiques, but occasionally in the UK high street store branches. I wouldn't plan on eating in fancy restaurants often either, but cook at home a lot, use the cheaper Turkish etc places once a week or so and somewhere midrange once a week max. How is it that I would save more in the second or third years? Why is that?
    Would I be able to save anything at all in the first?
  10. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    Regarding being charged by a notary (shouldn't be that much), you shouldn't really be paying anything towards organising the visa. If the school is asking you to pay towards this - another amber if not red light.
    I realise this could be a 'quick fix' for your money situation, but in the long term it might not be the best decision. 3 years at this place with 6000 savings per year = £18000 in 3 years. At another school, £2000 per month over 3 years = 74000
    Might be worth holding out for better. It isn't always straightforward changing from one school to anther in the ME
  11. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    I'm not in place in my career to be taking home enough to save £2-3000 a month. That is on a different scale entirely! I'm not prepared to work somewhere like Saudi or Kuwait where the salaries have to be higher either, my queries relate specifically to Qatar on the lower end of the salary scales.
    As for the paperwork costs, the school offer includes an allowance towards this, but it doesn't cover all of the actual cost (though most of it). I've asked HR about this but received no response about it yet. Meanwhile the management are continuing to push for me to get started, like yesterday!
  12. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    Is it likely I would even manage to save that 6k a year? I'm getting the impression it isn't.
  13. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    The contract is temporary at first (though I haven't seen it!), with a view to extension to 2yrs providing I pass the probationary period. So it's not a long term commitment just yet, they haven't given me that security yet and it also gives me s chance to assess the situation before I commit to longer.
    Is it normal to avoid showing a contract or be slow with it? And is it worth negotiating my point on the scale? I was told slightly higher at second interview.
  14. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    One of the better schools in Doha pays 18,500 QR pcm (£3,570) at the top of the scale (hence my calculation of saving £2,000 pcm minimum).
    Most schools have a 3 month probation hence the 'temporariness' of any contract. Although in theory it is reciprocal, if you were to drop out after 3 months I would guess there would be some compensation to be paid by you to cover school costs of recruiting you.
    Contract should be emailed to you shortly after the formal/email offer of the post.
    Sorry to be a damp squib but it all sounds quite iffy and insecure as it stands at the moment. If you PM me (or Hippo for that matter) with the name of the school I might be able to give some idea of exactly how good the school is.
  15. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    That sounds to me like you'd estimate £1600 a month is enough for a single teacher to live on out there. In that case, being paid around the £2000 mark, I should be able to put aside about £400 a month. Which isn't a lot, but it's better than nothing. If I stayed long term, my additional flights would have to come out of that and then it doesn't sound hugely worth it.
    Does this sound about right? I'd figured more on living on £1500 including putting money aside for flights.
  16. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I'm more optimistic than most other posters. The salary is on the low side, but from what you describe, so is your experience. It's certainly enough to live on and save some money, though my general view is that a saver will save money no matter how low the salary, and a spender will never earn enough to save anything.
    You can rent a cheap nasty car for 1000QR a month. 2000 will get you something pretty flash. You decide, saver or spender?
    My only concern is the contract. Definitely don't do anything until you have it in hand, signed.
  17. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    Thank you. That sounds more realistic. I think I saw a basic rental for 1250 qar, which is what I based my budget on.

    Signed by them too yeah? Not just a draft that I sign my end?
  18. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    You should be able to live reasonably on 6000 QR a month, 8000 will make it more comfortable. if you put aside 2000QR a month for savings that will leave you 1000 - 3000 per month to put aside for flights.

    The reality is that others around you may be earning more and, if you are having to be very frugal and limit your social life as a young person, this may spoil the experience. It would be a shame if this were the case as there is more to working overseas than counting pennies.
  19. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    ..... and yes, as GG says, make sure the contract they send you is signed by them. 2 copies. You sign both, send one back ,keep the other.
  20. Kathryn_2404

    Kathryn_2404 New commenter

    Thank you. Very good points!

    RE: the P85 form from hmrc, I had a look and I already submitted one back in December when I left the country previously. I've been back since then but I haven't worked or claimed benefits. So I shouldn't need to do it again should I?

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