Who are you?
I’m Elizabeth, a forty-something avid traveller, who currently lives in Doha, Qatar with my husband Richard. We started Qatar and Yonder on social media / our website fairly recently (after volunteering at a local events company for many years), to let people know what is happening around Qatar and to dispel the myth that there is nothing to do here.The “Yonder” part of the name refers to our travels abroad, which have taken us all over the world.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I first moved abroad to Spain and Mexico over 25 years ago as part of my university course. After uni finished, I moved to Mexico for 7 years and returned to the UK and married my British husband there. After marrying, we moved to Sydney, Australia, then to Kuwait and Dubai, before arriving in Doha, Qatar 5 years ago. We moved here due to my husband’s engineering job and the fact that he was made redundant in Dubai. We had the choice to move to Saudi Arabia or Qatar, so we chose here. To be honest, we weren’t enthusiastic about the move, but it’s probably the best decision we ever made.
What challenges did you face during the move?
We had visited Qatar on a stopover to the UK at the height of summer and had not exactly fallen in love with the place, as there didn’t seem much to do. I distinctly remember saying to my husband that I never wanted to live there. Fast forward a few years and we kind of had to move there, so our first obstacle was to overcome our past “not very positive” experience and make our life here interesting. Things move at a slower pace than in Dubai, so patience is required and it’s quite scary how some people drive. Public transport is thin on the ground in the immediate area where we live. Rents are very high.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, the expat population constitutes almost 90% of the population here. There are people from all over the world, mostly from India and the Philippines, but many Brits too.
What do you like about life where you are?
We live on The Pearl, which is a marina development that has its own self-contained facilities, such as pools, gyms, restaurants and shops. I love waking up to a view of the marina and the sea and the fact that there are pedestrian areas to walk around in (in other parts of the city, this is a challenge sometimes). Above everything, I love the fact that Qatar has given my husband great career opportunities and it has opened many doors for us both. We have done so many fantastic things here and have covered many events.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Above all, I dislike the aggressiveness on the roads and that it can take a while to get any form of transaction or maintenance job done.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
The fact that you always have to be mindful that Qatar is an Islamic country and that certain dress codes and behaviours are expected. I don’t particularly struggle with this, but others do.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
I would suggest that anyone thinking of moving to Qatar come here first on a look-see to get a feel of the place. Make sure that you have sufficient funds to tide you over the first few months of living here. As mentioned, rents (and school fees) are high and many employers expect the employee to cover their own housing, bills and schooling. Sign up to Qatar expat forums and ask as many questions as you can. Once here, sign up to everything on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that is Qatar based and you will find out what is going on everywhere. Most of the year, there is lots happening!
What are your plans for the future?
Instability in my husband’s job means that we could move at any time, so I honestly don’t know. We would like to keep on living abroad and are open to new experiences.
You can keep up to date with Elizabeth's adventures on her blog, Qatar And Yonder.