Guide to Manama Bahrain
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Cost of Living in Bahrain

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Manama is the focal point of Bahraini economy, with several multinationals, offices and facilities located in and around Manama. The economic base for Manama is its financial services, as there are more than 200 financial institutions and banks that have their base in the Central Business District and the Diplomatic Area.

However, the cost of living in Bahrain permits you to live comfortably. Accommodation and car payments forms major part of an expatriate's expenses in Bahrain. But, most of the time, the accommodation cost is covered by the company, although sometimes the rents are exclusive of municipal taxes and utilities. Therefore, it is wise to check with your employer if these costs are being covered in your employment contract, else you may have to budget for them.

The cost of living in Bahrain has been on the rise from 2008 owing to inflation, and due to presence of large western expatriate population. The overall cost of living index for Manama equates with high cost of living locations. The overall cost of living index comprises prices for defined quantities of same goods and services across all 13 basket groups.

The 2010 Mercer Cost of Living Survey has ranked Manama as 139th out of 215 cities across five continents, including Riyadh – Saudi Arabia, and Doha-Qatar.

Meanwhile, the 2010 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey revealed that expatriates in Bahrain ranked second in terms of access to disposable incomes.

Manama has been ranked 51 overall as most expensive place in the world for expatriate living, out of 276 international locations. However, compared to other regional commercial centres including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Bahrain is still a reasonable destination when it comes to saving a little something extra in the bank.
Here is the detail of cost of living overview for each basket group:

Accommodation cost in Bahrain

Accommodation is the single largest expense here, as in any other country, with costs having risen in recent years. Several landlords even ignore the 10percent cap placed on annual increases. However, there are different housing options to meet various salary levels drawn. Although accommodation expenses were earlier included as add-ons to salaries in Bahrain, lately this practice has almost been done away with. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that your basic payment adequately meets these expenses.

Properties in expat compounds are the most expensive with an average of BD1000 or more for a three-bedroom villa. A double bedroom fully-furnished flat in a decent town can cost BD700 inclusive of utilities and taxes.

Transportation cost in Bahrain

The transport and communication facilities in Bahrain are well developed with numerous multinational firms having businesses in Gulf, with Manama as base. Petroleum continues to be the main-stay of the economy. Transport costs for public transport, vehicle costs, vehicle insurance, vehicle fuel and vehicle maintenance including hire, purchase, lease of vehicle, petrol/diesel, public transport service maintenance, vehicle insurance, tyres, and vehicle purchase are less expensive in comparison to other cities ranking 198 out of 276.

The budget for a private vehicle varies tremendously depending on several factors.

A decent mid-level vehicle like Toyota Camry can cost around BD150 per month.

A good ballpark estimate for monthly lease payment on a high-end SUV is BD350 plus BD40 a month for petrol and BD 20 for car wash once a week.

The monthly rental for a small car could be BD150 to BD200. The cost for a second-hand small car could be BD1500 to BD2500.

However, petrol is comparatively cheap, Middle East being the location, after all.

As for renting a cab, the fare from city centre to airport, for instance could be around BD4.

Education cost in Bahrain

The cost of education including creche, pre-school, high school and college fee is comparatively less in comparison to other cities, ranking 202 out of 276.  However, children in expatriate families study in private or international schools, as the Bahrain Public School system does not permit foreign attendance. Hence, the tution fee varies depending on the age of children and the school chosen. Roughly, expatriates sending children to an international school may have to keep aside a budget of BD7000 annually.

Food cost in Bahrain

The cost of food in Bahrain is usually reasonable, if you limit the temptation to dine out and opt to have home food frequently. The household food items are reasonably priced and, fresh produce and local products are quite affordable.  Average casual lunch time meal may cost around BD3, while groceries for a small family (3 people) may cost about BD160 and that of large family (5 people) may cost about BD200. Restaurants including business dinner, hotel rates, take away drinks and snacks are quite expensive in Bahrain, with index ranking them at 11 out of 276.

On the whole, food and entertainment could cost anywhere between BD100 and BD200 a month, depending on your individual habits.

However, the cost of grocery for food, non-alcoholic beverages and for all canned foods, baked foods, cheese, dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, oil, pet food, pre-prepared food, seafood, sauces, snacks, soft drinks, spices and herbs, are all expensive ranking 10 out of 276 in the index.

Clothing Expenses

The cost of clothing and footwear including business suits, children clothing, footwear, casual clothing, hats, coasts, evening wear, and underwear is comparatively expensive, ranking 1 out of 276.

Communication

Cost of communication varies including home telephone, rental, internet connection, call charges and service provider fee, mobile, mobile phone contract, with calls being relatively less expensive in comparison to other cities, ranking 188 out of 276 in the index.

Furniture & Appliance

The cost of household equipments and appliances including fridge freezer, toaster, iron, kettle, light bulbs, television, vaccuum cleaner, washing machine, are all comparatively expensive ranking 47 out of 276.

Healthcare

The cost of healthcare including medical, medical insurance, hospital private ward daily rates, consultation rates, non-prescription medicine, private medical insurance, medical aid contributions, are all expensive in comparison to other cities, ranking 67 out of 276.

Household expenses

The cost for housing, electricity, household gas, fuels, local rates, residential taxes, flat mortgage, flat rental, electricity consumption, fuel consumption, water consumption and local property rates, taxes, levies, is more expensive in comparison to other cities ranking 45 out of 276.

Miscellaneous

Most other expenses including linen, stationary, goods and services, dry cleaning, linen, newspapers, magazines, office supplies, postage stamps rank 78 out of 276.

Other personal care items including hair care items, cosmetics, moisturizer, nappies, sun block, pain relief tablets, toothpaste, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, conditioners are all quite cheap ranking 249 out 276 in the index.

Costs of books, camera film, movie ticket, DVD and CD, sports, goods and theatre tickets are comparatively more expensive than in other cities ranking 71 out of 276 in the index.

Average cost of living in Manama may be based on an average of all the above basket groups varying depending on your location. However, as in all other nations, cost of living can vary depending on one’s lifestyle and salary levels.