Bahrain's taxation system has a significant impact on the cost of living. There is no tax on personal income and the social security contributions of foreign workers total just 1% of their monthly salary. The most expensive tax for expats is related to property: all expats living in rented property must pay a 10% municipal tax (check if it is included in your monthly rent).
On the 1st January 2019, the government introduced valued-added tax (VAT) at 5% on certain goods (clothing, phones, water, electricity etc.). The health sector, education and transportation are exempt.
Average cost of living
The following prices are to provide a rough estimate of the cost of living in Bahrain (2019). Naturally, costs will vary depending on your lifestyle and location in Bahrain. When you’re negotiating a work contract, ask your prospective employer to produce a detailed list with cost of living figures. This will be useful in helping you to decide whether the proposed job is financially attractive or not.
Accommodation will likely be the biggest expense for expats.
Utilities, such as water, electricity and gas, are cheaper than in most Western countries. Prices are subsidised to some extent by a region’s government.
If you choose to shop in western-style supermarkets that have imported products, the price of food can quickly add up, but national and local supermarkets are cheaper. Where alcohol is allowed, it is generally more expensive than in Western countries.
Your transport costs will be subject to the type of transport you use i.e. public transport or your own car. A lot of expats choose to buy their own car.
A lot of expats opt to send their children to international schools, but these can be expensive. Some employers are willing to cover the costs for you. It’s a good idea to check this when you are negotiating your work contract.
The cost of personal care (e.g. toiletries) is similar to the cost in Western countries, but clothing is usually slightly more expensive, especially if you choose to buy designer brands.