Manama ‘more affordable city than Dubai and Doha’

Manama is a more affordable city for expatriates to live in than Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha, according to an online database.

However, it is more expensive than Riyadh, Kuwait and Muscat, shows the latest Cost of Living Index (COLI) by, a platform that has been created to calculate expatriate pay using online calculators and an extensive database of cost of living and hardship indexes.

The index was compiled after collecting prices for the same items, world-wide, based on expat spending norms, and converting them to USD for a comparison of the cost of 13 different baskets in 780 global locations.

With an overall Cost of Living Index (COLI), for all 13 basket groups, of 71.23 as against 81.54 for Abu Dhabi, 80 for Dubai and 100 for New York, Manama is relatively affordable compared to other major cities in the world, making it an attractive destination for expatriates.

The cost of rent in Manama is about half of what it is in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and the cost of food is also lower in the kingdom’s capital than in other major cities in the Middle East.

Here is a breakdown of the cost of living in Manama in various categories:

Internet: Monthly standard plan subscription is $53.

Mobile: Benchmark mobile tariff is $0.11 per minute.

Education: Average annual private international school fee (excluding extras) is $16,533 for primary school and $18,398 for high school.

Groceries: Average prices in a major international retail store for 1kg apples is $3.25, 1kg potatoes is $1.45, 1kg cheddar cheese is $8.22, one dozen large eggs is $3.67, 500g loaf of white bread is $1.56, one litre full cream milk is $2.08, and 1.5 litre water is $0.77.

Healthcare: Average cost for a private practice doctor visit for an uninsured patient is $51, and a private hospital stay per day including nursing care, medications, diagnostic tests, food and related costs is $1,577.

Housing: Average expatriate house/apartment rent for a secure upmarket unfurnished apartment (three bedrooms) is $3,103 in a central location and $1,993 in a suburban location, per month, excluding utilities.

Entertainment: Average price for a latest release international cinema ticket for one adult is $11.73, and an international fitness, recreation or sports club membership cost for one adult is $88 per month.

Food and Drinks: Average cappuccino price (regular, medium) is $6.01, coke/pepsi (330ml) is $0.96, burger meal (international franchise or similar) is $8.38, and $50.28 for a mid-range international restaurant meal for two.

A direct comparison with Dubai shows that the cost of living in Manama is significantly lower; this is especially true for housing, education, and healthcare. However, the cost of food and entertainment is comparable to Dubai.

The report also indicates that Manama is 15.2pc cheaper for transport costs than Dubai. says its database is updated quarterly.

Subscribers use this information to ensure expatriate salary spending power is maintained when on an international assignment.

Salary spending power is affected by cost of living, hardship and exchange rate differences between the home and host location, it explains.

One common criticism of cost of living surveys is that they are not representative of the actual cost of living for everyone.

This is because the surveys typically only collect data from a small sample of people, and the results may not be generalisable to the entire population.

Additionally, the surveys may not take into account the cost of living for people with different lifestyles or budgets.

Also, most surveys do not factor in salaries for the same jobs which may vary widely in different cities.

“If you earn twice as much in Dubai, you’re not going to worry about paying a few extra dinars on your telephone bills,” said one hard-up British expatriate.





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