Day to Day Living in Bahrain
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Day-to-day Living in Bahrain
Expatriates cannot own land or property in Bahrain and therefore the only option is to rent.
Residential property renting
Foreign workers tend to live either in compounds or apartments. Compounds are a group of houses or small apartment blocks within a walled enclosure, rather like a private estate. Depending on the size of the compound, the facilities may include a communal swimming pool, a restaurant and shop, tennis and squash courts and a gym. However, many compounds can be rather claustrophobic with a lack of privacy.
Many foreigners will choose to live in separate apartment blocks which tend to be higher than those within compounds. A disadvantage to these is that they generally lack the extensive facilities found in most compounds and there may be fewer English-speaking people.
Villas are also a popular option for foreigners looking to rent property in Bahrain. Villas in Bahrain vary in size and style; from 2 and 3 bedroom townhouses to 5 and 6 bedroom villas with private pools and gardens. Villas either stand alone or stand within small villa compounds with private or shared pools. Some villas are fully furnished though most are only furnished with white goods such as a fridge and cooker.
If you have a car, it is vital that you find a property with a garage or covered carport. A car that is left outside quickly becomes very hot and the bodywork can deteriorate if it exposed to the sun for too long. Most new apartment blocks have underground car parking facilities and villas tend to have an attached or separate garage or carport.
Renting property is a fairly straightforward process. Rental costs vary for different buildings, sizes, rooms, facilities and whether they are furnished or unfurnished.
To find a rental property in Bahrain it is helpful to talk to other foreigners in the area and get recommendations. You can check property availability in each area by looking at notice boards and local newspapers and magazines and it is also helpful to visit compounds and apartments to check for availability. It is crucial that you contact estate agents. They will be able to provide you with a wide knowledge of the market, area and costs and they will usually provide transport and accompany you on viewings. If you are renting property from a private landlord, you will probably need a sponsor who will act almost as a guarantor. To rent a property you will need proof of identity and 2-3 months' deposit along with any other requirements.
Before signing the contract, make sure you obtain a faxed confirmation. It is usual practice for your rental contract to be drawn up with the owner of the property and your sponsor.
Business Property Rental
Office rents are low for business and the same procedures apply to renting a residential property.
Cost of Living
Generally, there is low cost of living in Bahrain. However, the lack of taxation means that the cost of many items such as cars, imported foods and internationally branded foods and goods are significantly more expensive. There are, however, plenty of good quality regionally produced cheaper alternatives when it comes to food and household products.
Utilities are cheaper than other European countries as they are subsidised to some extent by the region's governments which own the services. Air conditioning services however, are very expensive during the height of the summer.
International telephone calls are kept low by the Bahrain government in order to encourage international business and investment in the region.
Things to do and see
The cosmopolitan lifestyle means that the cities have an excellent array of restaurants, cafés and a fantastic arts scene with concerts, plays, movies, galleries and museums. The shopping is considered exceptional in Bahrain, with designer boutiques and international supermarkets.
Bahrain has a big sporting scene and is especially popular with water sports. The country also hosts international sporting events such as the Formula One Grand Prix which attracts many visitors.
The Islamic calendar is lunar and therefore changes every year. The months are as follows:
3: Rabi' al-awwal
4: Rabi' al-thani
5: Jumada al-awwal
6: Jumada al-thani
8: Sha' aban
11: Dhu al- Qi'dah
12: Dhu al- Khijjah
January 1st: New Year's Day
May 1st:Labour Day
December 16th:National Day
December 17th:Accession Day
10th Zilhajjah:Feast of the Sacrifice (4 days)
1st Shawwal:Little Feast (3 days)
1st Muharram:Hijri New Year
9th and 10th Muharram:Ashura Day
Last days of Ramadan:Al-Isra' wa ul-Miraj
27th Rajab:Al-Isra' wa ul-Miraj
12th Rabi' al-awwal:Prophet Muhammad's birthday