Moving to Qatar? Here’s Our First Impressions of Qatar

Why would you want to move to Qatar? It’s in the middle of the desert, it’s super hot, it’s incredibly expensive and the traffic is crazy! It doesn’t seem like a place you’d want to drag your family halfway across the world to start a new life. Well, if you’ve been following us on YouTube and our social media pages you would know that’s exactly what we did. We moved to Qatar a bit over a year ago and in this article we want to share our first impressions.

We actually shared our first impressions of Qatar over on our YouTube channel a few months after we arrived.  So if you prefer watching videos then you can check it out here.

We moved to a city called Mesaieed which is about 40 minutes outside of Doha.   So if you move to Qatar it is possible you’ll have a different experience to us depending on where you end up.  

The truth is no place is perfect and it’s easy to find the things you don’t like about a place. What we want to do in this article is address some of the negative ideas people may have of Qatar but try to put a positive spin on them.

1. Qatar is Hot!

It was no surprise that moving to the Middle East it was going to be hot and when we first arrived here in August, it was consistently 40 – 45 degrees on a daily basis. We had moved from North Queensland, Australia, where the it does get very hot and humid. However, the heat here in Qatar is on another level! When temperatures reach those highs it’s impossible to spend much time outside.

So during those first few months we had to stick to the air conditioning. We would pretty much go from our home, to our car, to where ever we were going. But where ever we went it had to have aircon. Essentially we could visit shopping malls, which there are plenty of in Qatar. So during those summer months unfortunately we couldn’t be outdoors at a park or the beach. There was one occasion we decided to venture to the Pearl in Doha in the evening thinking things had cooled down enough. This was a huge mistake! We were one of only a few people walking around. Being right on the water, The Pearl was really quite humid and we were dripping with sweat.

The good news is it really cools down and in October you can comfortably venture outside. For us, in December and January the weather is perfect! Some nights we’d even have to put on a jacket because it does get very cool in the evenings.

2. Qatar is in the Desert

Honestly, before we moved to Qatar we were concerned that there wouldn’t be much to do, particularly outdoors with the kids. We’ve always loved to visit parks and get among nature by hiking. Yes, Qatar is in the desert, it’s flat and there are no natural rivers or lakes. However to our surprise there are lots of green spaces all over.

The country has developed many beautiful parks which are kept so green, even during those brutally hot summer months. If you’re in Doha you’re spoilt for choice! Our favourite parks in Doha are MIA Park and Al Bidda Park which have great playgrounds for the kids. We even have a park here in Mesaieed.

In saying all that, the desert itself is a place that will amaze you! Epic sand dunes are plentiful. One of our favourite things to do is visit Sealine Beach and The Inland Sea. This is one of the few places on the planet where sand dunes meet the sea. A rare sight indeed.

3. Traffic and Driving in Qatar can be Crazy!

Coming from Australia, it’s clear to us people here drive differently.  Unfortunately, people don’t stick to speed limits or follow basic road signs.    People are impatient and are quick to flash their lights or honk their horn at you when you’re in their way.  Honestly, some drivers are outright dangerous.

There is definitely a learning curve when you start hitting the roads in Doha.  But once you get use to it and understand how the people drive here it’s not too bad. There are certain things you can do to ensure your safety on the roads in Qatar.   We plan to share an article with our tips for driving in Qatar.  Subscribe to our mailing list so you get notified when we post that article. 

Despite the challenges that come with driving in Qatar, it’s fair to say the roads here are amazing!  The highways can have up to 7 lanes.  Some of the intersections are incredible with multiple overpasses that allow you to drive around without really having to slow down.  The speed limit on most highways is 120 km/h which allows you to travel fairly quickly across the country and around Doha.   

4. Qatar is Expensive

Before we moved to Qatar all we read was that it is an expensive place to live.  But this really depends on where you’re coming from.  We’re from Australia which we consider to be a country with a high cost of living.  So for us we have a different opinion on this.  We actually think Qatar is more affordable compared to Australia.  

Our biggest expense each month is definitely food.  We were please to find out that fresh fruit and vegetables can be cheaper if you buy certain imports.  Check out this video where we share a recent grocery haul from Lulu’s Hypermarket. (Jump to about the 10 minute mark if you just want to see the prices).

You might think eating out would be expensive.  But this can be done cheaply.  We’ve found quite a few restaurants where we can feed our whole family for less than QR30 (this is about $11 AUD / $8 USD).   

As you would expect in The Middle East, petrol is heaps cheaper!  However we have found we are doing a lot more driving here with regular trips to Doha and Al Wakrah, plus our car is a bit thirsty. So this has kind of balanced out for us.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have a car, we can tell you that Uber is available here and fares are very reasonable.  The Doha Metro is extrememely cheap at just QR2 per trip with a maximum of QR6 per day no matter how many trips you take.  

If you want, Qatar can be an expensive place to live if you buy certain imported items.  There is also a luxurious side to dinning out and entertainment in Qatar. These things will obviously come at a cost.  Weekend brunches and staycations are very popular among expats and will quickly drain your bank account if you decide to do these things regularly.  

When it comes to activities with the kids there are also expensive options and affordable options.  Funville is a very affordable option and prior to the pandemic we would take the kids there all the time.  We have a membership for our kids to play on the soft playgrounds and also every Monday they have games and rides for just QR1 each.  

5. Qatar is Family Friendly

This is one thing we were happy to say is true.  Culturally there’s a general acceptance that kids will be kids.  People here don’t bat an eyelid at kids in public.  More so they are actually acknowledged everywhere they go, people are friendly towards them which makes for a wonderful relaxed environment for the whole family.

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