Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Housing for Expats in Oman

I thought to put together some suggestions for where or how to find housing for expats who are coming to Oman. Sometimes, the employer will provide housing, but in alternate one may be given a 'housing allowance' or one might prefer to find housing on his or her own. 

In general, if renting from a realty company, one should be prepared to hand over 12 post-dated rent checks in advance (the system here in Oman) or a large up-front payment and sign a contract; however, if renting directly from a private party, one may be able to work out a deal to pay by cash or check month-to-month. 

Where to Find Housing in Muscat / Oman

1, Baitoman.comBaitOman.com provides the largest search portal of properties for Oman.
http://www.baitoman.com/. Real Estate company and private listings. 

2, Dubizzle.com - Classifieds, the 'craigslist' of Oman. One can find house/room shares, as well as, apartments and villas for rent. Many private listings.

3, Real Estate Companies - Using an agent may be helpful in the beginning and many higher end  properties are listed with them. It could be reassuring to know the rental is legitimate and to have someone to introduce you to the different areas and types of properties.  Be prepared to pay a premium on the rate for the housing though. 

b) Engel  & Voelkers Oman  - http://www.engelvoelkers.com/oman/

c) Cluttons Oman  - http://www.oman.cluttons.com/

e) Better Homes Oman - http://oman.bhomes.com/oman/index.xhtml

f) Hilal Properties - http://www.hilalprp.com.om/

Outside Muscat, in smaller cities, going with a local agent can greatly facilitate finding housing. Sometimes, your employer or PRO can provide a name of someone. However, if left in the 'cold', go to the local sook and look for shops that let cars or housing and ask inside if they know someone to help you out that deals in real estate.  Normally, everyone knows someone that can hook you up. 

4, Times of Oman -  See the classified section in print, as well as, check in other major newspapers for room shares, villas and apartments. 

5, 'Boots on the ground search' 
If you find a neighborhood you like, drive around and take numbers down on the 'for rent' signs and even snap a photo along with the 'way' number. Many properties are only listed this way. It might be most helpful to have an Omani friend or an Arabic speaker to call on your behalf in case of a communication issue, but also because they most likely can negotiate the best rate for you. 

6, FB Group: MUSCAT & OMAN - Flats for rent
As pointed out by oman-collective-intelligence on his thorough list of FB groups in Oman:

Special Housing Communities for Expats 

Some of  housing  falls under the designation of Integrated Tourist Complex ('ITC') meaning foreigners are allowed to buy property in the complex. Units are rented out also. Most complexes have their own amenities such as a pool or golf club and are gated. Dress code is relaxed and pets are generally allowed. Please see video from House Hunter's International @ Oman at end of post for more.


1, The Wave (ITC) - http://www.thewavemuscat.com/en
'Spread along a stunning 6km stretch of Muscat’s coastline, this world-class mixed-use community comprises luxury residential properties, retail and dining facilities and Oman’s only signature designed PGA Standard 18 hole links golf course, designed by Greg Norman' 
Located between Azaiba and Seeb. One-bedroom apartments start around OMR600+. Popular with expats. Onsite shopping, restaurants and a bookstore.

Notes: Serves as corporate housing for several large corporations. Mix of Omani and Expat residents. Golf Club just next door. Onsite restaurants and shops. Central air with modern appliances. Near the beach and the Airport (a little far out). 


This video is put out by BP about working/living in Oman. I would say it is pretty representative of what to expect if coming as a BP employee, but could be different if coming with under a different job profile. For most of the accommodations shown, one would need a significant salary or allowance. 

2, Dolphin Village - http://www.dolphinvillagemuscat.com/
'An ideal destination for spacious luxury living in a clean and safe environment.'
Rates start at 675 OMR/mo,  furnished or unfurnished, long term or short term.
Located in Boshar.
Notes: As of 2013-14 under renovation. Pool sometimes crowded. Restaurant/bar by pool. Located inland. Closest shopping area is Al Khwair. Much smaller scale than the 'Wave'

3, Muscat Hills (ITC) - https://www.muscathillsgolf.com/
'A 1.2 million square metre development set in a unique hillside location with spectacular panoramic mountain and sea views over the Gulf of Oman. Muscat Hills is a mixed use development with upscale residential villas and apartments, an 18-hole championship golf course, country club and hotel' (hotel not built yet)
Located behind the airport and near the new ExpresswayThe major reality firms let villas and apartments at Muscat Hills. Prices start from around OMR800.
Notes: Located off new expressway near Bank Muscat HQ. Relaxing with pleasant villas. 

Muscat Hills
4, Ras al Hamra - PDO 'camp' and Development Project - old and new housing developments for PDO employees and their families. Located near Qurm in Ras al Hamra near PDO refinery.
Notes: New modern residential complex under development to replace some of the old housing. Attractive units but close to the road. Private beach club. Sidewalks- not uncommon to see joggers or pet walkers (which is uncommon in Oman). 

5, Bareeq al Shatti - http://www.bareeqalshatti.com/ - http://oman.bhomes.com/oman/bareeq-al-shatti.xhtml
The Bareeq Al Shatti complex is considered one of the major real estate projects in Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat. The complex is equipped with all modern amenities and enjoys the different views of the sea and mountains. Furnished apartments centrally located near Intercon Hotel and Al Sharuj exit.
Notes: Good location but overlooks the highway.
Taif.me.uk - Bareeq Shatti

5, Muscat Oasis Residences - http://www.muscatoasisresidence.com/
'Muscat Oasis Residence Complex is an aesthetically designed complex that has now become a landmark in the city of Muscat and has set standards and lent credence to the art of living.' Large complex, 3 pools, health club, gardens
Location: Bowshar


6, Palm Gardens -  http://prestigeoman.com/
'250,000 sq.mts of sheer luxury - offering elegant Deluxe apartments and opulent Luxury villas. With world-class amenities to match.' Available on corporate and private Rental.
Notes: Pool club and tennis court. 

7, Sohar Aluminum Housing Complex


8, Due to the tourist season influx during hareef, many leases are for 10 months only.

About Neighborhoods in Muscat & Oman
Muscat - The following links provide information on various neighborhoods

1, Expat Woman has put together a list and descriptions of the following neighborhoods:
Ruwi, Madinat As Sultan Qaboos (MSQ), Shatti Qurm, Qurm, Al Azaiba, Al Ghubra, Al Boshar, As Seeb/Hail, Al Khawair

2, Muscat Mutterings has a nice write-up on neighborhoods in Muscat:

The consensus seems to be Madinat Sultan Qaboos is one of the best expat areas to live in with Al Azaiba growing in popularity and cost. There's also nice beach area in Azaiba. The 'expat complexes' such as 'the Wave' are also sought after. Qurm has become a bit dated for the price; however, Qurm Heights (near Crowne Plaza) is a premier area with some new developments.

Many expats choose to stay in Al Khawair as the location is centralized, lots of shopping is available and the pricing is in the mid-range. In choosing housing, it is important to think of the commute timings from home to office or school. Muscat is quite spread-out and the rush-hour can be debilitating. However, everyone's needs or tastes are different and cost may be a factor. Rents are high in Muscat compared to outside Muscat.

High rent areas (*OMR 650++): MSQ, Qurm areas, Al llam, The Wave, Dolphin
Medium (*OMR 350+) : Azaiba+, Al Khawair, Bosher Heights, Ansab, Mawalah, Al Ghubra
Lower (*OMR 200+): Wadi Kabir, Ruwi, Seeb, Al Hail, Muttrah, Darsayt, Bustan, Al Khoud
*Bottom prices for a small apartment. Villas could be double or triple the price. 


Newly Developed Areas:

Al Ansab. Al Ansab has recently been developed with the opening of the new Expressway. It's near Bousher and features villas and apartments. It's far from the beach, but the streets are quiet and the rents are less for new villas and buildings.

Bawsher Heights. Bosher Heights to the west of Bosher is also in the process of being developed. It is a peaceful neighborhood with quality residences and parks.

The MGM Mall at the Tilal Residences. New complex built within the mall in Ghubra area. Lots of traffic. http://oman.bhomes.com/oman/tilal-residence.xhtml

Other areas not mentioned in above posts.

Muttrah. It is possible to live in Muttrah but it's not for everyone. It's an historic area with several sooks and forts. Very noisy. Traditionally, many Liwati people live with in the 'gates'.  

Darsayt. Between Qurm and Ruwi. Same exit as Darsayt Lulu's. Some newer buildings. 

Al Khoud.  Al Khoud is over by Sultan Qaboos University. Lots of shops and restaurants are on the main street. Many students live in the area.

Bustan. Near the new parliament buildings and the Bustan Hotel. There is a beach (same as Bustan hotel's beach) and farm. Some new 'luxury' buildings are going up. A bit far from some areas in Muscat.

Wadi Kabir Near Ruwi. Offers some decent housing at lower rents on opposite side of Bakhwon development and also some run down buildings. Mixed neighborhood; Omani families and expats. 

Muscat Neighborhoods. Click to enlarge.

Map of Muscat Neighborhoods. Slightly outdated.


1, Palm Gardens
2, Al Tareef neighborhood located near the Safeer mall
3, Near Sohar University
4, On/near the corniche  
5, Behind the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Majan Housing Complex
6, May want to avoid the Liwa area due to pollution from Sohar Port Complex.

The rents in Sohar are less than Muscat. Expect to pay 150 OMR and up for two bedroom flat or old villa. 

1, Almost anywhere but skip the old part of Sur and the sook as they are known to flood out. It is possible to rent right on the beach for reasonable rates.

1, Behind the Buraimi Hotel and backward is not known as a 'good' neighborhood (near the football club). It is possible to find inexpensive villas and apartments in Buraimi. Overall, the cost of living is much lower than Muscat. 

Video programme looking for housing in Oman (HH International came to Muscat). Visits Muscat Hills, Tilal Residences and an Omani villa. 

Part 1 - Visits Muscat Hills

Part 2 - Visits an Omani villa

Part 3 - Visits Tilal Residences


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  2. great, informative blog to find out about the neighborhoods & trying to find the right match :)

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