My experience as an expat in Arabia is that the company always provides the accommodation. An apartment is provided and it is up to me whether to share it with a flat mate or just live by myself. The problem is the standard of living we want to have, whether the accommodation provided is up to our standard or maybe beyond our normal standard.
Off course, there are different ways of looking at it; just accept what the company has provided good or bad, and get on with it as this is only a ‘temporary place’, before moving on to another place, another company, and even another country before going home; or as we are living in a hardship location (that is separate from our love ones and in a foreign country, less facilities etc) we deserve a better place to live for the moment to keep us going instead of suffering even more and end up effecting the work ethos.
My approach to life in the Middle East is the second one, try to enjoy myself as it’s already hard enough to live in a foreign country, I don’t want to alienated myself with my own ‘home’. When Keith and I lived in Bahrain, we especially looked for a nice apartment to live in. Luckily, the housing system there was good. We got a ‘small’ three bedroom serviced apartment with all the facilities which is so much better compared to my first apartment in Doha, these are the facilities:
- Swimming pool, sauna room and steam room at the roof; the roof deck it self could function as a club house which tenants could invite guests for a barbeque or other small social activities.
- Games room where tenants can mingle and play pool
- Gym room
- Parking space
In my view, it’s not bad for a single building; the building itself maybe occupied around 80% of the land plot. Inside the flat, we did not have to provide anything, all kitchen equiptment was already there, pots and pans, crockery and utensils, microwave, toaster, kettle, and other things were also there, including kitchen cloths, bed-sheets. The rent price was also not that bad, as it included the proper TV channels (not the free to air channels), internet connection 24 hours non-stop, electricity and water bill and on top of that included house keeping twice a week. I feel like we lived in a 4 star hotel.
In Doha things are so much different. We knew that the quality of the apartments available in Doha was not as good as in Bahrain, and worse of all, it was more expensive.
Unlike when I arrived in Doha for the first time, where the company put me in a hotel for a month before they transferred me to company accommodation; this time they stuck us in a company provided “serviced” apartment.
What is serviced apartement? It seems that the definition of a serviced apartment in Manama is different from a serviced apartment in Doha, or different from the company’s interpretation of a “serviced apartment”. Or maybe the quality of serviced apartments is different? Certainly this is not a 4 star-serviced hotel.
The apartment itself is only a two bedroom apartment, it may have all the facilties mentioned in Bahrain apartment, which are limited to kitchen facilities, TV with free to air channel only, no internet connection, housekeeping included but only once in 10 days instead of twice a week, no games room and no place for BBQ, and horrifyingly dirty and unfinished designated basement parking space.
Worst of all, the rent rate for this kind of apartment was so much higher (almost twice) compare to Bahrain and yet they said rent prices have come down significantly in Doha….