Pros and cons of living in Kuwait
Living in any destination has its disadvantages and advantages, and expats will find that Kuwait is no different. The better prepared a person is for the less appealing aspects of life abroad, the more successfully they’ll be able to adapt. Here are the pros and cons of living in Kuwait.
Accommodation in Kuwait
Expats moving to Kuwait will find that there are many areas to live, some better than others, depending on how much one is willing to pay.
PRO: Lots of options for accommodation
There has been a construction boom in Kuwait over the last 10 years, providing many different apartments and villas for expats to choose from. Almost all of the apartment buildings have aharis or manager on the building premises who will arrange for your trash to be taken out and your car washed for a small monthly fee.
CON: Limited parking and amenities
Most buildings have limited parking spaces and amenities. It seems that parking spaces are not included in the blueprints of buildings so most renters are left to try to find a space any and everywhere; don’t be shocked when you come out to find someone blocking your car.
Lifestyle in Kuwait
Kuwait can be confusing when one first arrives; expats will have to learn how to navigate “rings” and highways when driving.
PRO: There are many things to do in Kuwait
The best time of the year to explore Kuwait is between October and April which are the “winter” months. There are many museums to visit, monthly events and Falika Island for that weekend getaway.
CON: Very hot summers
Dry, hot summers with some humid days may keep expats at home watching a movie, but if choosing to go out every building is air-conditioned and there are a lot of indoor activities such as malls and restaurants to choose from.
PRO: Taking advantage of the sunshine
When summer comes to Kuwait everything tends to slow down as people stay home more often, but for beach lovers there are jet skis, beach resorts with pools and fishing excursions for entertainment.
Unfortunately litter is a big problem in Kuwait as many people think it’s ok to throw things out of their windows instead of taking the time to find a bin. Residential areas don’t have enough large dustbins for the number of people living there so garbage may overflow into the streets.
Safety in Kuwait
PRO: Low crime rates
Kuwait has a low level of crime but everyone should be aware of their surroundings and women should not walk alone.
CON: Police are known to have bad attitudes
If you have an accident or need to file a report, you may find that the police are in no rush to assist. There have been reports of police officers showing up to the scene of an accident very late if it’s just a fender bender. When you go to the police station they can be rather rude if you don’t speak Arabic and very few speak English so you will need to have a translator in order to complete transactions in a timely manner.
Working and doing business in Kuwait
PRO: High salaries
Kuwait has the highest-valued currency in the world which means more tax-free income to send home.
CON: Expats must have a Kuwaiti partner
Expats wanting to do business in Kuwait must have a Kuwaiti partner/sponsor who will take 51 percent of the business and 49 percent for the expat, even if the Kuwaiti partner does nothing to contribute.
Culture shock in Kuwait
Nothing will prepare you for Kuwait; you will have to learn from experience. Most of the rules and laws are not followed and you will get used to the term wasta and Inshallah (God willing). As the number of people in Kuwait increase so does the traffic and congestion so be prepared to hurry up and wait when going out.
PRO: A variety of expat organisations to join
There is a wide variety of expat leagues/clubs for women to join. These organisations have gatherings and are deeply involved with schools and charitable programmes.
CON: Limited visibility
It may take a little research to find these organisations as they are mainly word-of-mouth but once you do join you will meet some very friendly women and they will take you under their wing.
PRO: Younger generation is more open
The younger generation of Kuwaiti citizens are more open to meeting expats these days which helps when one wants to learn about Kuwaiti culture.
CON: Segregation rules
Men tend to have more problems adjusting as it’s not easy to meet people unless they are from work. Approaching and talking to a stranger is frowned upon, especially if they are female, so it is better to stick to speaking to men if you have questions.
Cost of living in Kuwait
PRO: Tax-free income
There is no personal income tax in Kuwait, even for expats living and working there.
CON: High cost of basic goods
Although there are no taxes the majority of goods are imported which means higher charges on basic necessities.
Education and schools in Kuwait
PRO: Many different types of private schools to choose from
There are many different private schools in Kuwait. From Indian and Pakistani to American and British schools, expats have a wide variety of international schools to choose from. However, government schools are only for Kuwaiti children or children of educators and are all taught in Arabic.
CON: Education is expensive
Western private schools are extremely expensive if your company does not pay for it and the education children receive may not always be to the highest level.
PRO: Wide variety of colleges
There are several different colleges for students to choose from which means one does not have to travel abroad for their higher education.
Healthcare in Kuwait
PRO: Many private hospitals to choose from
Kuwait has many private hospitals and more are currently being built. Most expats have insurance provided by their companies; medical insurance is also available for everyone but can be costly.
CON: Long waits at public hospitals
For those without insurance, government clinics and hospitals can be a nightmare as Kuwaiti citizens tend to have priority over others, making a wait even longer. Don’t expect to spend less than two hours for any visit to the hospital.