Whether you’re new to the city or looking to move, trawling through estate agent listings and researching all the different areas of this ever-changing city can be a frustrating and time- consuming process.
But the current market makes this the ideal time to shop around. “Rents have decreased,” says Monsi Rabah, Propertyfinder.qa’s Regional Manager for Qatar and Bahrain. “In some areas, like The Pearl, [rent prices] are down around ten percent as we currently have more supply in Doha than demand in the market.”
So where to begin? First and foremost, you should come up with a list of two or three priorities that you would like the property to have. This can be anything from the number of bedrooms, to the length of your commute to work or school. Decide what you are willing to compromise on, as it’s rare that one property is a perfect fit.
“Al Waab and Abu Hamour are great for families,” says Rabah. “Singles with a higher budget tend to be more into West Bay and The Pearl,” she adds, “[but] lower-budget areas like Al Saad and Old Airport are great, too”.
With the help of Propertyfinder.qa, we’ve compiled an essential guide to each area of the city, and the prices you should be expecting to pay.
Dos and Don’ts
Do: Avoid freelance estate agents who are not working for a registered company. If they can’t tell you which company they work for, who the managing director of the company is, or where their office is located, it’s best to look elsewhere for assistance.
Don't: Turn up for viewings without being ready to sign a contract. Ensure you have all your documents including Residence Permit copies and cheques for the deposit. You don’t want to miss out on your perfect home because you’re sorting out all the admin.
Do: Be very cautious of renting in buildings that are not yet complete. Even those that appear close to completion can be held up by any number of things (in fact, this is very common). There’s a very high risk that the accommodation won’t be ready by the date specified.
Don't: View without setting a budget. Make sure you have finalised your employment contract beforehand to make sure your allowance will sufficiently cover rent, factoring in bills and utilities.
Do: Read your contract carefully. “There are no hidden costs, it’s all in the contract if read carefully,” says Rabah. “When discussing with your agent you should ask this question as he will give you all the details on the costs involved including his commission.”
Lowest: QR6,000 for a studio
Mid-range: QR10,000-QR16,000 for a one- two- or three-bed apartment
Highest: QR27,000 for a three-bed serviced apartment
A symbol of modern Doha, the towering skyscrapers of West Bay are mixed-use developments with commercial, residential, leisure and hospitality. The Doha Convention Centre and City Centre Mall are centrepieces which ensure it is busy. Doha’s diplomatic area is located in West Bay meaning several government departments and embassies can be found behind the towers. Several prominent schools are situated here, making it a viable option for families. An abundance of beach hotels and business properties mean that this is prime turf for visitors and foodies.
Rental prices in West Bay vary drastically, depending not only on the size of the flat, but whether you opt for serviced or un-serviced apartments. Lots of flats are connected to five-star hotels such as the Kempinski, InterContinental The City and W Doha. These come with perks such as full furnishing, room service and access to the hotel’s facilities, but rent is, of course, at a premium.
West Bay Lagoon
Lowest: QR19,000 for a two-bed villa
Mid-range: QR9,000-QR15,000 for a two- or three-bed flat
Highest: QR35,000 for a four-bed villa
Not to be confused with West Bay, this upscale housing district is an attractive development close to the entrance to The Pearl-Qatar. Private beaches, lawned parks and children’s play areas are obviously popular with families and you will find some of Doha’s largest and most attractive homes here. Of course you will pay for the privilege, but if you are in the market for a five-bedroom beach villa we can’t think of many better places to call home. Katara, West Bay and the nearby Pearl-Qatar are all short drives away and packed with hotels and lifestyle facilities. Quiet, exclusive and recommended, if you can afford it.
A more affordable option comes in the form of Zig Zag towers. Two of Doha's most recognisable structures, they conveniently adjoin Lagoona Mall and offer smaller flats with prices slightly more on-par with cheaper areas of the city.
Lowest: QR7,500 for a studio
Mid-range: QR12,500-QR16,000 for a two- or three-bed flat
Highest: QR35,000 for a four-bed townhouse
Forgive the pun, but The Pearl is one of the jewels of Doha. The manmade island development is home to some of the most exclusive properties in all of Qatar. A winding boulevard has numerous offshoots leading into waterfront villas, luxury marina space or stylish towers and hotels. The exclusive properties come at a price, but move here and you’re in good company with VIP hotels like The Ritz-Carlton and Marsa Malaz Kempinski as neighbours. Lagoona Mall stands before the gateway as a beacon of style and up-market consumerism with its range of high-end designer boutiques.
Al Sadd & Freej Bin Mahmoud
Lowest: QR5,500 for a studio
Mid-range: QR8,000-QR13,000 for one- two- and three-bed flats
Highest: QR12,500-QR14,500 for two- and three-bed flats
Okay, it doesn’t have the towering skyscrapers and flash modern residences or hotels of other areas, but these neighbourhoods are busy and popular with expats. Mid-sized residence blocks and compounds make up the accommodation options and it is popular with sharing friends, married couples and single residents more than families. Traffic tends to be troublesome, but mid-priced malls, hotels and cafés are all present and there is a vaguely trendy feel to the neighbourhood thanks to the presence of budget eateries like Thai Snack that enjoy a cult-ish popularity, and bustling streets like Al Nasr.
Lowest: QR6,500 for a one-bed flat
Mid-range: QR11,000 for a two-bed flat
Highest: QR13,000 for a three-bed flat
This Doha neighbourhood which was once considered the commercial centre of the city. While lots of new residential buildings are cropping up around the city, it has remained what estate agents may euphemistically refer to as “characterful”. In other words, it is old. Fear not, though, as a QR20.2 billion redevelopment project is breathing new life into the district and a four-phase plan will modernise business, retail and residential aspects while enhancing the heritage aspects of the area. Buildings here tend to be lower rise and are in need of the regeneration although we’re pleased that Msheireb Museums are being used to preserve the character.
Al Wabb & Aspire Zone
Lowest: QR10,000 for a two-bedroom flat
Mid-range: QR14,500 for a four-bed villa
Highest: QR24,000 for a four-bed villa
Small-sized accommodation is rarely, if ever, available in this area. The majority of property is villas in gated communities, mainly occupied by families, with whom this area is popular thanks to some standout factors. First and foremost, it is outside the bustle of central Doha. The accommodation here is largely compounds of villas. With the distance from the sea and built-up areas comes remoteness from nightlife, beaches and many hotels, but it is a sacrifice expat families are happy to make for suburban living, largely because they know they have two premium Doha attractions nearby, such as the Aspire Zone park, and all the sporting attractions which come with it, and the Villaggio Mall. So you don’t have to head into town for leisure time.
Lowest: QR4,500 for a studio
Mid-range: QR6,000-QR9,000 for two- and three- bed flats
Highest: QR10,000-QR12,000 for two- and three- bed flats
As we all know, Doha is changing. Beyond recognition. Nowhere will this be more evident than in Lusail. It might not look it now, but if you close your eyes and imagine really hard, then you can actually picture the Fifa World Cup final taking place here in just six years’ time (turn to page 33 to find out more about this). Actually, you really can’t. So much will change in the next few years with new hotels, stadiums, malls and, in fact, an entire city to emerge here over forthcoming seasons. It is threadbare at the moment with just a handful of compounds and villas more than 20 kilometres outside central Doha, but less traffic, a slower pace of life and currently cheap rent make this a pretty attractive rental option (though your commute won't exactly be short).
Old Airport (including Al Hilal, Al Thumana, Najma and Umm Ghuwaylina)
Lowest: QR4,500-QR5,000 for a studio
Mid-range: QR6,500-QR9,500 for a two-bed flat
Highest: QR12,500-14,500 for a three-bed flat
Between the old airport and Najma Street is a collection of neighbourhoods characterised by budget accommodation and ageing apartment blocks. There is not a great deal of difference between Al Hilal, Al Thumana and Umm Ghuwaylina, and residents will be quick to point out the frequency and intensity of traffic tailbacks in the area at peak times. What you will see, however, are a lot of private villas and very affordable pricing. The savings come with a corresponding addition of years-of-age and reduction in quality compared to upscale neighbourhoods, but you will get what you pay for in this market.
Affordable studios are available round Al Hilal, but the majority of this area is made up of flats with two or more bedrooms.
Al Gharrafah, Duhail and Madinat Khalifa
Lowest: QR3,000-5,000 for a studio
Mid-range: QR8,500-QR11,000 for a two-bed flat
Highest: QR12,500-13,500 for a three- bed flat
These neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Doha are populated by expat families and those wanting to steer clear of the bustle. It's the ideal location for anyone working around Education City, and it's also close to a fair number of schools, so a lot of families are choosing to settle here and the accommodation is almost entirely villas and compounds. Khalifa Street is a direct road leading into busier neighbourhoods and nightlife, which is notably lacking in these locales.
Lowest: QR4,000 for a studio
Mid-range: QR6,500-QR9,000 for a two- or three- bed flat or villa
Highest: QR12,000 for a four-bed villa
Al Khoris 50 kilometres north of Doha (roughly a 30-minute drive) and it will take special circumstances for you to set up home here rather than in Doha. Those special circumstances will almost certainly be that you’re working in the oil industry. Because it’s so far from the attractions of Qatar’s capital, accommodation is relatively cheap. Look out for some enormous seven-bedroom villas at not-obscene prices. The coastal area is characterised by quiet, small-town life, though there are murmurings of big new attractions including malls, stadiums, cinemas and hotels, in addition to schools and a state-of-the-art hospital. Living here also means living in close proximity to beautiful, unspoilt beaches and natural attractions like Purple Island.
Lowest: QR5,000 for a studio
Mid-range: QR5,000-QR9,000 for a two- or three-bed flat; QR8,000 for a two-bed villa
Highest: QR11,000-QR13,000 for a three- or four-bed flat or villa
Facilities, accommodation and schooling are all limited here as Al Wakrah is around 45 kilometres outside Doha, but the savings on housing are significant. At present, this is a quiet area lacking in almost any attractions at all, but having said that, Al Wakrah is actually only about a ten-minute drive from the airport and the small community is close to some lovely under-rated beaches.
Umm Salal Muhammad
Lowest: QR4,500 for a studio
Mid-range: QR5,000-QR9,000 for a one- or two-bed flat
Highest: QR9,000-10,000 for a two-bed flat
Join the Doha Expressway and drive out of the city. Keep on going. Further. A little more. You reached Umm Salal. It is only 15 kilometres away but this dusty outcrop seems a long way from the heart of Doha. However, Doha Festival City will make it seem closer when it opens fully early next year and it is close to Ikea and a couple of other popular malls (such as Landmark). Villas are large, but the neighbourhood could do with some greenery and perhaps a few more hotels to make it more interesting for residents.
Abu Hamour, Ain Khalid and Marmoura
Lowest: QR5,000 for a studio
Mid-range: QR6,000-QR10,000 for two-bed flats
Highest: QR10,500-QR13,500 for a two- or three-bed flat
Three neighbourhoods run into each other and the results are quite pleasant. Low-rise apartment buildings (or blocks may be a better description for the rows of identikit residences), some new compounds and large standalone villas are rented here. The fish, vegetable and plant souqs are not ideal – if convenient – neighbours, but the districts are popular choices for residences nevertheless thanks to the number of schools and nurseries and the uncongested streets.
To buy, or not to buy
If you’re thinking of purchasing property in Qatar, now is a good time, says Rabah, particularly in Lusail where prices are competitive and the return on investment is good.
That said, you should also be aware of the risks involved with purchasing property. You should be confident that you will be in Qatar for a while, first of all, and secondly, make sure you are clear on other costs such as service charges for communities and apartment buildings, or the transferral of tax when you come to sell.
You also should avoid buying off-plan, as you risk delays in construction and completion.