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Housing and Lifestyle

Bahrain - Housing and Lifestyle


What is living in Bahrain really like? Below is a general overview of life in the region, with a little insight on day-to-day things from housing options to the routine of daily life. 
 
Housing


Accommodation in Bahrain is generally readily available, as new buildings are cropping up frequently. It is possible to buy property, but very few expats actually do as this only applies to certain buildings and areas, and the lengthy process dissuades a lot of potential buyers. Instead, most people will rent during their stay in the country. 

The main property types on offer are apartments, villas and accommodation in a campus-based gated facility. Apartments, set in high-rise buildings, will often have shared amenities such as a swimming pool or tennis court – but they are generally only found in Manana, the capital city. 

Villas tend to be a little further out of the urban centres, and are usually larger. Many also come with living quarters for domestic help, which is easy to find in Bahrain. 

The gated community housing is normally in suburban areas, and these are often virtually exclusive to expats and their families. A typical campus will have some shared facilities like a small shop or a swimming pool. Some will also have a restaurant or a gym. 
Many employers will sort your accommodation for you, but if you are sorting it for yourself then you should really enlist the services of an estate agent to help you navigate any potential pitfalls. One other important point is that traffic congestion can be a cause for concern in Bahrain, so it is probably best to establish how far away from work (or your children’s school if applicable) you are prepared to be before settling on an area.

In terms of costs, a three-bed property can average around £900 per month in a suburban area, not including utility bills. Prices will increase if the property is closer to a city centre – expect to pay £1100. Some landlords require a month’s rent upfront as a deposit to secure the property. 

Lifestyle

Many expats love life in Bahrain, but there are a few obvious differences to life here compared with the western world that you should consider before moving. 

The working week runs from Sunday to Thursday, with most companies operating between 08:30/09:00 and 17:30/18:00. Most shops and businesses are closed outside of these times, and almost everything is closed on a Friday, the holy day. Standard opening hours are reduced even further during the holy month of Ramadan. 

  • The Muslim faith influences much of the way of life here. Muslims pray five times each day, and the mosques issue a call to prayer through public address systems at the selected times. 
  • Similarly, the calendar is also based around Islam’s religious events; the main public holidays are around Ramadan and Hajj – the dates of which vary each year. You would be expected to use your annual leave to celebrate Christmas and Easter (although the international schools do have breaks at these times). 
  • For both genders, your knees and shoulders should be covered whenever you’re out in public. If you’re obviously not a native Bahraini then you’ll be given more leeway, but all the same you will want to avoid causing offence, so no tight or revealing clothes are appropriate. In private areas you are free to wear whatever you like.
  • Whilst unmarried couples are permitted to live together, and same-sex relationships are not a crime, both may still face hostility from more traditional corners. Any public displays of affection are advised against. 
  • Alcohol is legal for non-Muslims, but it is restricted; there are only certain hotels, restaurants and clubs where it is available. If you wish to drink alcohol you will have to apply to join one of these clubs. This process can be long, but is necessary if you would like to drink during your time in Bahrain. 

Entertainment

Regardless of your interests, in Bahrain there is sure to be something for you. There’s plenty to do with the family, with theme parks and water parks easily accessible. Museums and cultural sites are also plentiful. Many people also spend their leisure time on one of the island’s beaches. 

For some, the highlights include the shopping opportunities, along with standard hobbies such as going bowling or visiting the cinema. Others like to enjoy a spot of go-karting on the Formula One racetrack – providing the race itself isn’t on of course! 
A little further afield, a scattering of islands around Bahrain are dotted with attractions, many of which are wildlife based. A considerable number of expats will also enjoy a visit to the neighbouring countries in the Persian Gulf for a short weekend break. 
As alcohol is tolerated here, there is also a selection of clubs and bars where you can enjoy a drink in the evenings. It’s worth mentioning that the expatriate community is welcoming and good at making its own entertainment - there are often events and parties to attend. Many of the campus-based communities also organise special themed nights, so there really is a huge choice of options for your leisure time. 

Weather

Bahrain has a mostly hot and dry desert climate. The summer season is from April to September, whilst winter is between October and March. Throughout the year, the temperature is consistently warm – averaging from 17-25°C in winter to about 40°C in the summer months. The humidity can be as much as 95%, making it feel even hotter at these times, and the air conditioning is a necessity! Dust storms are an increased risk at the height of summer; rainfall is infrequent but will occur in winter. 

Ultimately, only you can decide whether making a move to Bahrain is right for you. But it could be a wonderful and exciting opportunity to take in a completely different culture and lifestyle, with the added security that English is widely spoken here. Moving to Bahrain could also allow you and your family to live closer to your cultural or geographical heritage if you’re of an Islamic origin.



 

 
 

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