Cost of Living in Bahrain: 2014

One concern expats have when relocating abroad is the cost of living. According to HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer 2014 survey, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman are more popular destinations for expats than the UAE because of the rising cost of living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The lower cost of living has attracted many expats who ranked Bahrain as the 5th best place to set up a home in the Middle East.

If you’re one of those moving to Bahrain, you need to organize your finances and look at the cost of living, tax, savings and impact of foreign exchange. The lack of taxation means expats have higher disposable income. There are many local and international banks offering personal banking for expats in Bahrain. To better manage your finances while working and living in Bahrain, you might want to open a current bank account for day-do-day banking and for your salary to be credited into. Credit cards denominated in Bahraini Dinar currency also come in handy for everyday purchases. You can avoid foreign transaction fees and exposure to exchange rate fluctuations.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 10.02.32 AMDepending on your lifestyle, the cost of living in Bahrain is comparable to that in the Western countries. Here is a breakdown of the cost of living in this Emirate:


Accommodation comprises the largest portion of expat expenses but, depending on your budget, there are different housing options. Cost of renting of buying in the capital of Manama can be higher than other cities like Ar Rifa and Jidd Hafs; a property in the expat area is usually more expensive than an apartment in town.


Utility bills vary depending on the types of apartment and the cost is subsidized by the government. However, expats living in Bahrain could start paying unsubsidized electricity and water bills, according to Gulf Daily News.

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Food and drink

Like anywhere, the prices of food and drink vary depending on the brands and imported food items cost more than local brands. You should consider trying the local brands which are usually of good quality!

Here’s what you’re likely to spend on some basic food items:

  • 500g loaf of fresh white bread BHD0.34
  • 1kg white rice BHD0.68
  • 1 litre milk BHD0.56
  • 1kg apples BHD0.89
  • 2kg potatoes BHD0.90
  • Daily meal in an inexpensive restaurant in the business district BHD2.50
  • 3-course meal in a mid-range restaurant BHD7.50
  • Combo meal in a fast food restaurant BHD2.10


The cost of petrol and transportation is the cheapest thing about living in Bahrain. Bus fare costs a minimum of BHD0.15 per trip. The majority of Western expats in Bahrain drive a car because it is cheaper to run a car compared to in the West.

The impact of a change in the cost of living can make a huge difference. Make sure you’ve control your living expenses by managing your finances wisely.

Images by Harold Laudeus and Deaf Dude, used under the Creative Commons license. 

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