The cost of living in Oman varies depending on the sort of lifestyle you wish to have and what sort of employment package you’ve managed to negotiate. Many companies offer free company accommodation, an annual accommodation allowance or an additional amount in your monthly salary to help pay the rent.
Although foreign nationals have recently been given the right to buy property on certain developments, very few of them have been completed, which means that renting is really the only option for expats. Some landlords expect a full year of rent to be paid for up front, which can lose you money if you decide to move house before the year is completed.
Average monthly rental prices for unfurnished homes (converted into equivalent US$):
1 bedroom apartment = 750 - 1,000
2 bedroom apartment = 1,000 - 1,500
3 bedroom apartment = 1,500 - 1,800
2-3 bedroom villa = 1,800 - 2,250
4+ bedroom villa = 2,300 and upwards
Serviced apartments are also available and cost between 30% and 50% more than unserviced ones. They do however come with laundry, cleaning and bed-changing services so - if you can afford it - they offer a luxurious element to your home life.
Utility bills are your own responsibility, and can be much higher in summer months when air-conditioning units are needed almost constantly. Thankfully, electricity, water and gas costs are subsidised by the region’s government, which owns the services. This is intended to aid locals and benefit the population as a whole. It’s worth keeping track of your payments and receipts so that you don’t get overcharged.
The price of wines and spirits is slightly lower than in the UK and US but higher than average European prices. But, because of lower import duties, most electrical items - such as TVs, DVD players, camera equipment and computer hardware/software - are generally less expensive.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of buying or renting a car. Taxis are very expensive but, as you’d expect, petrol is extremely cheap so it’s wise to procure your own transport.
The lure of the tax-free salary is, of course, huge. But don’t be too blinded by it: you may still be required to pay taxes in your home country. Not only that, you’ll still pay taxes on products such as pork, alcohol and tobacco as well as other ‘hidden’ taxes in the form of fees, tourism levies and service charges.
Also bear in mind that the Oman rial is linked to the US dollar and you may find that the recent currency fluctuations decrease the actual value of your salary when compared with what you’d be earning at home.
Lastly, some states impose a local tax (known as baladiya) on properties to cover expenses like refuse collection and road maintenance. Usually the owner of the property is liable for this cost but you may still find yourself paying it.