Moving to Kuwait?
Housing and Accommodation in Kuwait
The average Kuwaiti home is more spacious than accommodation in, for example, the US or Europe, with much larger rooms than what you might be used to. Additionally, most big apartments have a maid’s room with separate bathroom.
Most family houses — in expat compounds and otherwise — are built around a majilis. Literally, this is Arabic for “place of sitting”. It is the heart of any Arab home. Here, families greet visitors and socialize with their guests. The majilis is usually located immediately inside the front door, while the rest of the home lies off to the sides or to the rear.
Different Types of Accommodation
At the moment, foreigners have restrictions on buying property in Kuwait, although this law may change in the near future. Expats should fulfill certain conditions in order to be allowed to own property in Kuwait. You must be a permanent resident in Kuwait with enough income to purchase the property, and you should not have a criminal record. The property should be your only one in Kuwait; it shouldn’t be larger than 1,000 square meters, and be used for residential purposes only.
Until these restrictions are eased some day, the most common alternative for expats in Kuwait is to rent a home. Rental homes in Kuwait come in all shapes and sizes: from one-bedroom apartments in skyscraper buildings to spacious single family homes, known as “villas”. Most expats in Kuwait either live in apartments or in compounds.
There is a great number of compounds all over Kuwait, which cater mainly to the international community. Compounds usually have both smaller apartment buildings and single houses. Depending on their size, compounds may have swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds for children, and even restaurants and shops.
The pros and cons of living in an expatriate compound are the same as everywhere else. On the upside, compounds usually offer extensive facilities and English-speaking neighbors who can help you find your way around. On the downside, contact with the local population is usually minimal.
Rental Prices — Value for Money
For a comfortable three-bedroom apartment in a decent location, expats can expect to pay between 500 and 800 KWD (1,650 to 1,900 USD). One-bedroom apartments start at 200 KWD (660 USD). Rental prices have been swiftly increasing in recent years, however. Single houses or villas can cost up to 2,500 KWD (about 8,300 USD) and more, depending on size and degree of luxury. Many employers provide a certain housing allowance for expatriate employees.
For an already furnished home, expats should calculate around 20% to 30% more than the figures quoted above. However, if you do choose to rent an unfurnished place, buying furniture in Kuwait is generally not too expensive. Also, there is always the chance to acquire some household goods from expats who are leaving Kuwait.
When looking for a new home, carefully check what is included in the monthly rent. Air conditioning as well as gas may be included or may have to be paid for separately.
How to Find Your New Home
Finding a suitable temporary home is never an easy task. It is, however, easier in Kuwait than in many other expat destinations. There is plenty of good-quality housing available and landlords are generally keen to rent to expats.
Major international companies as well as private schools usually have housing arrangements for their expatriate employees. Even if this is not the case, your employer or the relevant HR department can usually help you get started with your search.
Here are some strategies to help you find your dream home in Kuwait:
- Consult a local real estate agent.
- Ask work colleagues, friends, and other expats — word of mouth is the most reliable type of recommendation in Kuwait.
- Have a look in one of the local English-language newspapers such as the Kuwait Times or the Arab Times.
- Check online real estate listings such as the Kuwait Real Estate Directory and Mourjan.
- Visit compounds or apartment buildings and ask about availability — you might just be lucky and find out that an apartment will soon be vacated.
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