Cost of Living

How much does living in Kuwait cost?

The overall cost of living in Kuwait is similar to that in most European countries, if you’re living in the style of the average western expatriate.

But the general lack of taxation has a significant impact on the cost of certain items, e.g. cars. On the other hand, the cost of accommodation is sometimes high, as is that of certain food items, particularly imported foods. If you buy internationally recognised branded foods and household goods, you might pay higher prices than in your home country, but there are usually plenty of cheaper locally and regionally produced alternatives that are of excellent quality. Clothing can also be expensive if you favour designer labels – this isn’t peculiar to Kuwait – although there’s little need for winter clothing.

The price of wines and spirits, where these are permitted, is slightly lower than in the UK but higher than average European prices. Electronic goods, such as televisions, hi-fis, DVD players, photographic equipment and computer hardware and software, are generally less expensive than in Europe, mainly because of lower import duties.

Utilities, such as electricity, water and gas, are subsidised to some extent by the region’s governments, which own the services (except for bottled gas supplies) in order to provide inexpensive electricity and water, mainly for the benefit of the local population. Utilities are therefore cheaper than in most European countries. However, at the height of summer, air-conditioning costs will escalate, rather as the cost of heating increases in winter in colder climates. Newcomers sometimes make the expensive mistake of keeping their air-conditioning on even when they’re out, but this is unnecessary, as air-conditioning systems reduce the temperature in your accommodation quickly when activated on your return home.

You should also allow for the cost of international telephone calls, although these are kept low by Kuwait’s government, who wants to encourage international business and investment in the region.

Your cost of living will obviously depend on your lifestyle. When you’re negotiating a work contract, it’s usual for your prospective employer to produce detailed cost of living figures for his country, which are useful in helping you to decide whether the proposed job is financially attractive or not. Average monthly major expenses for a single person, couple and family with two children are shown below (numbers in brackets relate to the notes following the table).

 

Monthly Costs ($/£)

Item

Single

Couple

Couple with 2 Children

Housing (1)

900/600

1,050/700

1,200/800

Food (2)

450/300

750/500

1,050/700

Utilities (3)

225/150

300/200

450/300

Leisure (4)

450/300

450/300

600/400

Transport (5)

75/50

150/100

150/100

Insurance (6)

100/65

150/100

225/150

Clothing (7)

150/100

300/200

450/300

Totals

2,350/1,565

3,150/2,100

4,125/2,750

  1. Rental costs for a one-bedroom apartment in a modern block, probably unfurnished, a two-bedroom apartment in a similar block and a two or three-bedroom apartment or a modest villa. Apartments might have air-conditioning included in the rent. Satellite television is probably provided but is unlikely to include all channels. A swimming pool and/or gym are usually provided.
  2. Doesn’t include luxury food items or alcohol.
  3. Includes electricity (and air-conditioning), water (and usually sewage if charged in conjunction with the water, as is normal) and an allowance for telephone charges.
  4. Includes entertainment, dining out, sports, newspapers and magazines but not holidays (air fares are often included in work contract terms).
  5. Includes running costs for an average family car plus third party insurance, petrol, servicing and repairs, but excludes depreciation and credit purchase costs.
  6. Includes private health, travel, car and contents insurance. Note that property is rented, so building insurance is usually unnecessary.
  7. Lots of clothing is unnecessary in the region’s hot climate. Office wear for men is a shirt and tie, except for formal occasions.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.

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Other comments

  • Desert Girl (Kuwait), 21 September 2008 Reply

    Alcohol is NOT ALLOWED in Kuwait

    "The price of wines and spirits, where these are permitted, is slightly lower than in the UK but higher than average European prices." is a completely false statement. Kuwait is a dry country - no alcohol is legal; although it can be purchased on the black market for exhorbitant prices (US$300 for a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label, for example).

  • gt, 21 September 2012 Reply

    Living Costs in Kuwait

    In terms of living costs....depending on the size of the family, below is what you can expect to spend monthly:

    -Rent (inc all bills)= KD500 (2-3bed place. Can get a 1 bed for about KD375)
    -Monthly travel to work = KD100
    -Monthly travel for personal use = KD100
    -Monthly Groceries/shopping = KD350
    -Plus any other shopping you would do

    Hence, for a start you will be spending atleast KD 1050/month (£2341) as an expense if its a couple. Obviously, if it is just 1 person here, then he can always get a 1bed place and his monthly grocery spend might come down to KD250 approx.

    Also, when one comes here, make sure one has some savings or a credit card to get going as money goes really quick in the first 3 months.. as you are not getting your full salary have big outlays going out (i.e. costs of getting a place and buying furnishings). Hence, you are chipping from the balance back home.

    Hence, when one gets here this is the minimum he will need to get going:

    -Housing costs = KD1250 broken as follows:
    *1x mth Rent: KD500
    *1x mth Depost: KD500
    *Agent Commission: KD250 (one can save on this if goes direct to the landlord)

    -Setting up Costs = KD 2000 broken as follows:
    *Furnishings: KD1500 (for all furniture e.g. sofa, white goods, TV etc)
    *Other basics: KD500 (for little things like cups/plates/curtains etc)

    So in total one would expect to pay about KD 3250 (£7247) to get oneself up and running here...

    Nevertheless, there are some places that offer finance options here aswell, however, just make sure he has some backup in case he does not get access to this.

    The company do offer relocation allowance, however, that does not come to you until 6mths after you join, hence, you have to pay all the these outlays before until you get that. Also, the company normally gives you KD500 (£1115) salary advance when you join, however, that goes pretty quick and the company then deducts that in your following 2 month salary.

    Also, when one comes here, the company will give accommodation for which they will deduct the accommodation element of his salary. Hence, watch out for that as it wont be until 3-4 months till one gets his full salary.

    In terms of driving, UK license will get converted to the Kuwaiti one, however, one will have to wait till one gets a civil ID (local id card) which can take 1-2months and will cost him £300 atleast as long as he has got a degree. Hence, till then one will be bound to taxi's which are much cheaper than the UK, however, they all add up. just for commuting to work and just usual evenings out you can easily spend KD200 ( £446) per month. Used cars here are a bit of a lottery.. the cheapest you would ever find decent enough to drive is about £2000 / KD1000 plus, hence, many people then rent/lease or finance a car which depending on the car can range from KD120-200 (£270-£450) per month

    Nevertheless, after you get settled, you do start to save. You can easily save £1k plus a month..depending on your package. Also, petrol is cheap. You can fill up like 100 litres for like £8

    Also, if one has kids, schools here are very expensive.. can easily end up paying KD300 (£669) per month per child on fees. So make sure the package includes school fees.