Emigration Tips for Expatriates in Bahrain

Expatriates in Bahrain

Bahrain is a very desirable place to work and live, as the number of expats living here shows us! Bahrain expatriates enjoy an excellent lifestyle, wonderful climate and a wealth of places to see, eat, drink and shop. In fact, it is regarded as a haven for expatriates and ranked one of the top destinations to set up roots.

Expatriates in Bahrain comprise over 50% of the population, with actual locals coming in at 48%. Whilst the cost of living can be quite high, this is often matched by the salaries that can be earned by those working in Bahrain. Also, it’s infinitely more economical to live here than in the close neighbour, Dubai!

Bahrain expatriates come from many countries throughout the world, from Qatar and neighbouring states, to India, the USA, UK and other European destinations.

The key living communities are on Bahrain Island in Manama or Saar, Hamala and Budaiya to the west. Muharraq Island is also an increasingly popular choice, which has amazing beachside complexes and even golf courses. In fact, you are spoilt for choice for accommodation.

Read on to find out more about living here as an expat and, to visit this country before you move here, apply for your eVisa for Bahrain on our dedicated page.

Tips for Expatriates in Bahrain

This is a multicultural state that shares both Islamic and British law. However, it is in the Middle East, so certain rules and traditions should always be adhered to, out of respect for the local culture. Falling foul of what is expected of you could carry legal penalties and affect your life in the state.

An archipelago of over 30 islands, Bahrain is a beautiful country and a great place to live for expats. Whilst Bahrain is more liberal than some of its neighbouring countries, men and women are still treated differently. Here are some tips for expatriates which will make your time here trouble-free.

  • Housing is plentiful and most homes contain modern utilities. That said, older properties tend to only have gas cookers for which you will need to order cylinders from a gas supplier.
  • Internet access is efficient and widely available. This is why most expatriates choose to live in the newer and more up-to-date complexes, which have pools, gyms, spas and other facilities to encourage people to mix.
  • The state enjoys a great healthcare system, but you will want to make sure that you have insurance, as medical care is expensive and queues at public hospitals can be long.
  • Grocery shops are available in abundance in this country and you may be happy to hear that the country even boasts an array of well-known Western shops and department stores!
  • When it comes to getting around, public transport is limited to little more than an erratic bus service, and most expats choose to use taxis instead which are very reasonably priced.
  • If you are planning to drive, you must obtain an International Driving licence and, if you’re renting a vehicle, have been driving for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Eating out is a favourite pastime in Bahrain, and areas such as Block 338 have a wide range of restaurants including Italian, steak houses and Asian cuisine.
  • Despite popular belief, most restaurants are licensed so you can enjoy a tipple with your meal – although, however well you eat, do not overindulge on alcohol, as this is frowned upon.
  • For shopping, a visit to the Manama Souk can be a whole day experience and, in fact, there are organised 1-day tours for new residents to help you find your way around! You do not only have the ‘glitzy’ shops; there are some old, well-established markets that sell a wide variety of food and other household goods.
  • To live in Bahrain, all residents are required to have a residence visa and ID card, and employees must have a work visa. When it comes to your conduct, less is more – which means that expats are advised to dress modestly and to avoid public displays of affection.
  • This is an ideal place for families, and the Bahrainis strictly believe in family ethics. There are excellent schools available within the state.
  • There is no need for women to worry either – there are a wealth of clubs and social activities to join in and expand your network of friends and contacts.
  • The British Club in Manama is one of the most established social scenes in the country and has been voted one of the worlds’ best networks to join by many newspapers and periodicals.

What Type of Bahrain Expatriates Are There?

You could really say that there are all types of expatriates in the country. For those that are here for long-term manual work, there are a considerable number of employees from India and the Far East.

At the other end of the scale, Americans and Europeans are in abundance in the high tech, banking and oil industries, some of whom stay on even after their contracts end and become residents.

Jobs for Expatriates in Bahrain

The job market offers huge potential for those wanting to work here. The economy here continues to diversify at a fast pace, and opportunities in niche roles are highly sought after.

As well as being the financial hub of the Middle East, further opportunities have opened up in other industries such as tourism and leisure. Most classifications of workers will be able to find appropriate positions, from high and middle management, down to skilled and unskilled tradesmen.

A highlight of jobs for expatriates in Bahrain is that of tax. An expatriate only pays 1% of their income (as at January 2021)!

Where to Find Jobs for Expatriates in Bahrain

So where do you find expatriate jobs in this state? There are several ways which include the obvious head-hunters and recruiters in your own country, but also utilising the web for job postings on boards and any notifications of job fairs that may specialise in Bahrain itself.

You can also try calling companies that you know have a presence in the country or contacting friends that you have here to see if they can ‘put the word around for you’ with companies of interest. Use your own social media to great effect and you never know what might pop up!

Where to Find Flats for Rent for Expatriates in Bahrain

If you have already been offered an expatriate job, it may be that the company who has hired you will sort out accommodation for you, so you have no need to worry.

To find a flat for rent under your own steam is not too difficult. There are plenty of reputable estate agents in your own country who will be able to give you choices of location and cost.

Alternatively, there are sites where you can post your own advert, detailing what you are looking for. Again, use a reputable site as, if you use an individual posting, you have no idea who that person is and the ad may be fake. If you are asked to pay money upfront, you want to know that the flat really exists.

A lot of accommodation comes fully furnished, but should you need to buy anything, these are just a few ideas.

Where to Buy a Mobile for Expatriates in Bahrain

Communications in the country are simple and fast, with the 5G network in existence. Service providers are manyfold, but most expatriates who buy a mobile tend to sign up with well-known providers, such as Batelco, Zain and Viva.

If you want to hit the ground running, these 3 all have outlets in Arrivals at the airport, if you have time then. Alternatively, there are mobile phone shops scattered all around the place.

Pricing is competitive, so check out what is the best deal you can find what suits you. You can of course use the option of changing your SIM card if you happen to be in love with your current mobile!

Where to Find a Car for Sale for Expatriates in Bahrain

You would be strongly advised to find a car for sale in Bahrain by using vehicle dealerships or well-established second-hand car dealers. Although plenty are advertised as a personal sale, it is better to be safe and do your transaction through a dealer that you can go back to, should anything go wrong.

Most importantly, buy a car that you are comfortable with driving, or rent one for a few weeks to get used to the sometimes erratic driving in this state. Petrol is cheap, so driving a bigger car if it gives you confidence is not out of line, and will not empty your wallet.

When you first arrive as an expatriate, you can use your own country’s driving licence for a short period, but it is better to obtain an International Driving Licence which is valid for a year. Also, check out car insurance rates – the more expensive the car, the more expensive the insurance will be (up to 2% of the value of the car).

Where to Find a Sofa in Bahrain for Expatriates

As sofas and any other furniture are a personal thing, you would be advised to visit one or more of the large home centres that will have a huge array of styles and patterns for you to test in the shop.

Of course, just like most countries, you can buy online, but you need to feel comfortable in your new home, so you may wish to test in person first. Alternatively, a lot of rental accommodation is offered with a furniture package, so you could choose that option.

Enjoy your stay and soak up the culture and lifestyle – it is fast paced, but there are plenty of opportunities to relax!