Our monthly newsletter contains health and financial news, expat articles, social media recommendations and more.
Bahrain - Renting Property
Reasons To Rent Property In Bahrain
Expats can only buy property in a few specially designated districts of Bahrain. Therefore, if you can’t afford the cost of a property in those areas and don’t want to stay in a hotel long term or let a room in someone’s home, you’ll have to take out a rental contract for accommodation that fits your budget and lifestyle.
As we discuss in the article How to Apply for the New CPR Card in Bahrain, getting a permanent address can also help when dealing with bureaucracy.
The lucky few will receive accommodation as part of their employment package. Others will be helped by accommodation consultants hired by their employers to get settled somewhere. However, for most expats working in Bahrain, finding and securing a new rental home is a major step.
Review Your Finances Before Moving
Before heading off to a new country, it’s always a good idea to review and plan your financial resources with a qualified financial advisor.
When Bahrain is the destination in question, the low taxes can make your income appear generous. However, you may find that property taxes, rental costs, school fees and the daily cost of living all take a big bite out of your bank balance. A financial advisor can help you establish what your income is likely to be and how much you can comfortably afford to pay on monthly rent.
ExpatFocus partner Tom Zachystal works with many of our American readers. He’s a registered investment advisor, chartered financial analyst and certified financial planner™ who specialises in portfolio management and financial planning services for expats. Tom offers a range of services, and you can contact him for further information through our site.
We’ve also produced a podcast episode with tax tips for digital nomads. If you don’t get your finances in order from the start, it can cost you dearly later on.
Choosing Your Rental Property
The first step is to be aware of your budget. It’s no use getting excited about a beautiful apartment with access to a gym and swimming pool if paying the rent means you can’t afford the electricity bills. The location and facilities on offer make a big difference to the listed price.
Like in any other country, some areas tend to be more expensive than others, especially the neighbourhoods that have a large expat population. Similarly, newly constructed properties (with all the modern amenities such as a gym, pool and playground) are generally a lot costlier than the older buildings.
Secondly, think about what you need from your new home. Work out how far you can comfortably travel to work each day and whether you have access to public transport routes. If you have children, the distance between your home and their school will be a critical factor.
If you prefer peace and tranquility, you’ll need to choose somewhere away from noisy, busy venues or popular family streets. Do remember though, that in a country where construction is affecting every neighbourhood, you cannot guarantee that the beautiful vista over an empty plot will exist much longer before a tower block appears. Some construction sites have people working on them 24 hours day, with the accompanying dust and noise.
Living somewhere close to restaurants, shops, ATMs and parks can be an important consideration for some people, while others are happy to travel for these facilities.
Do you need a kitchen with a washing machine and dishwasher already installed, or can you comfortably afford to buy and install them - assuming there is sufficient space to do so?
These factors are all a matter of personal requirements and preferences. The estate agents will work hard to promote particular properties so be aware of what you need before you approach one. Otherwise you may be swayed into a commitment and only later remember that it’s missing something vital.
The Best Residential Areas Of Bahrain
The website for Bahrain Property World is an excellent place to start looking at the cost and facilities on offer in Bahraini rental properties. The photographs, descriptions and clear rental price listings allow you to assess where your budget and requirements could be satisfied.
The company has also produced a useful guide to the best residential areas in Bahrain, with key information about each district.
What’s Included In The Price?
Be clear about what is or is not included in the rental price. Apartments often have service charges for the cleaning of common areas as well as keeping the gardens maintained. Bins need to be collected and streets cleaned, and these costs are charged to the community’s properties. There may also be costs associated with the structural maintenance of the building. These additional items can be expensive, so you need to know if you are responsible for them or if they are included in the monthly rent.
An air conditioning system is probably provided in the property, but you’ll be responsible for paying the electricity bills. If you’ve never had one of these before, the running costs can be a shock, so only turn it on when you need it. It’s similar to heating bills in cold climates - you’d never leave the radiators on all day long.
Many properties are available on a furnished basis with higher monthly rental costs. If you’re staying for the long term and your possessions are being shipped to Bahrain, you could save money by finding an unfurnished property.
The Inventory List
Every item to be included in the property should be added to the inventory list. As you move in, walk around the property and take clear photographs, focusing on the condition of the walls, contents and fittings. If anything is missing or broken, this must be raised with the landlord or agent. If they leave promising to fix the faulty item, send a follow-up email within 24 hours so you have evidence that this was discussed.
On departure, repeat the photographic exercise and check that everything on the inventory is in place.
Should the landlord try to withhold your deposit, you will have photographic evidence that you did not cause the damage or removal claimed.
Never Pay In Cash
All around the globe, there are unfortunately people who are prepared to lie and cheat their way into money. Newly arrived expats make an easy target as they haven’t yet got experience of the way things work, meaning they take longer to spot a scam. People without the right papers to stay make particularly easy targets.
If someone asks you to pay in cash, ask yourself why. Legitimate businesses seldom like cash for big transactions. As soon as you hear promises of discounts for your cash or warnings about how you will lose the property to others willing to pay immediately, consider walking away.
If you pay in cash and there is a problem later on with the landlord holding your security deposit, it could be alleged that you did not pay. Even worse, if you hand over your cash to someone who was only pretending to have a connection to the property, you have lost your money without securing a home.
Foreign Exchange Money Transfers
The initial, upfront costs of taking out a new tenancy can take you by surprise. Once the security deposit, first month’s rent in advance and any payments to an estate agent are added up, you are expected to hand over several thousand dollars before you’ve even received the key to the front door.
You might need to use some of your existing savings to cover these costs, involving a transfer of funds from your home country. Both the fees and the exchange rates can take a chunk out of what funds you have available, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best foreign exchange money transfer deal. This is such an important topic we have produced a podcast episode about it.
Is There A Break Clause?
If your tenancy agreement is for 12 months, do you have the opportunity to terminate it earlier? In the event your parent falls seriously ill or your job turns out to be awful, you may want to return home. It would be better to pay three months’ rent as you serve notice rather than carry on paying right until the end of the tenancy.
Conversely, does your agreement specify what will happen at the end of the agreed period? If you’re happy in the property, you may want to stay for several more years. This will depend on price increases and the landlord’s willingness to let you stay.
If you’re staying in Bahrain for the medium to long term, you may wish to transport your household possessions to your new property.
ExpatFocus works with a number of partners to help migrants with the practical aspects of moving. You can obtain a no-obligation quote from up to five international removal companies just by answering a few quick questions online.
Connecting To Utilities And Services
It’s essential to get connected to your water and electricity supplies before you move into your new home. You can find out how to do this in the Utilities section of this country guide to Bahrain.
Meanwhile, the Communications section covers the topics of telephone and internet connections, what you can expect from the postal services and how to receive TV channels.
For those keen to establish new friendships in your area, the Leisure, Entertainment and Sport section will be of interest, as will the list of expat clubs in Bahrain.
Bringing Your Pets To Your New Home
It’s certainly possible to bring most pets into Bahrain, but you must go through the correct official channels.
The Pets section of this country guide explains the vaccinations and paperwork necessary to complete these formalities.
Using A Lawyer
It’s rare for an expat to need the services of a lawyer over an accommodation issue. However, if you do, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) produces a list of lawyers in Bahrain whose staff speak English.
Read more about this country