Slums and Palaces, these are the two broad classification of Doha real estate, in my naive eyes.
Then again, what I called slums are actually small concrete single storied buildings with numerous small rooms, all lined up side by side. I know this because my kitchen window towers over one of such clusters. A light yellow coloured concrete mess of buildings, with loads of rubbish and garbage, a broken air cooler, some broken furnitures, aerials, wires, and what not, all jumbled up on the roof tops. Early morning, when I stand next to this window with my cup of coffee, I can see some people in vests and loins up above the terrace, brushing teeth, or combing hair in front of the broken mirror. At night, I can see through their unlocked doors and paneless windows, these people are lying side by side next to each other, some on a very narrow bedding, and some plainly on the floor. They use each others limbs as pillows.
Doha is a pretty small city. If you take a bird eye view of the whole of Qatar, you will see a vast desert landscape, with sudden green out lined roads. High rise buildings lined up on both sides of these roads, and some decorative green spots carefully placed here and there. The outskirts of Doha is growing rapidly, for the sudden influx of population and commercialisation of this place. The Arabian seashore is getting extended every other day, new parks, gardens and high-end hotels are getting built on that new-found land. The Sea has been tamed and captured inland in Corniche area and has been given the mood of a giant leisurely swimming pool. Old buildings are being taken down and reconstructed with a superior look and feel.
Palaces are the cottages, with sprawling lawns, and gardens. I have not yet been fortunate enough to enter in one such house though, so can’t tell you how these are from inside. But from outside, all residential buildings in Qatar, big or small. simple or ornamental, are all neutrally painted in beige or light yellow. Unmistakably, these villas are the only residential buildings in Doha that have lovely balconies hanging outward from the otherwise blind sand coloured walls.
There of course is a third category, the apartments, where I live, but even these are so pricey and so luxuriously decorated, that they can’t really be excluded from the palace category. Oh but unfortunately I don’t have those romantic looking balconies in my apartment Although on a second thought, even if I have had one, I perhaps wouldn’t have enjoyed sun bathing there, nor would have liked watching sandstorms much. Alright, enough hankering over a balcony; any and almost every accommodation like ours comes with a rooftop swimming pool and gym. Every evening when I go for swimming, some Arabs will definitely be barbecuing there with families and kids. Lots of sweetest and prettiest kids in and around the pool, jumping up and down I find. A 4-year-old, I had met a few days back, an expert swimmer he is !
No shower rooms next to the pool, though, there are big bath tubs and jet showers in every restrooms of the residence. Air Conditioners in the foyer area, reception and corridors keeps running 24/7. Ours is a one bedroom apartment. The sitting room is so big that me and my husband often play a little room cricket of our own, and there’s no exaggeration there. But then one has to be careful for there are expensive oil paintings around the room, a giant LED TV, big lamp shades, chandeliers and everything that a small palace can boast of. A king size bed and equally princely wardrobe and dresser adorns the bedroom.
When I first came here and saw all of these, I actually thought my husband has become rather materialist and frivolous with money matters. Then he corrected me. The thing about Doha accommodation is, there is no room for mediocrity. Rent of a single bed room apartment typically starts with 6000 QAR and can go as high as 8000 bucks, depending on the location. But Single bedrooms are a little difficult to find. Mostly there will be two or three bedroom flats that would cost you nothing less than 8 to 10 thousand riyal per month, in a decent location, and can go as high as 13 thousand as well. Stating an upper limit is very difficult, actually. However, a lease agreement will invariably be for a year, and one can not go for it unless he or she gets the Qatar ID Card.
So, for all of you who are looking at saving some money while working here, thank God if you are single, for then you can easily bunk with a colleague of yours. But if you are with family, be prepared to shell out more money on your accommodation than on anything else in Doha. In fact real estate prices are expected to soar even higher in recent times, in preparation for the World Cup 2022.
It’s a good idea to take a property on rent through the real estate companies here (and there are many if you google), because they provide excellent service and maintenance after you start living. This takes away the pain of negotiating with the landlord if ever your microwave or God forbid, AC goes out-of-order. After going through all my ramblings here without much help, I know you are cursing me under your breath, for wasting your time. Hence, quickly I am going to jolt down some really useful and popular sites below.
Also, please keep in mind, West Bay and Corniche are the most posh and expensive areas to live in, whereas C Ring road, D ring Road, Nazma, etc are more connected and convenient places to stay. Musheireb is a place you can opt for if you are looking at a stylist living at cheaper cost, but buying a car of your own would be a necessity then.