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JustHere | December 6, 2016

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No country for ‘bachelors’? Single men struggle to find accommodation in Qatar

No country for ‘bachelors’? Single men struggle to find accommodation in Qatar
Cassey Oliveira

There are two things necessary to survive in Qatar, when you move here. A good job, and a place to stay. While some companies take care of the latter, others don’t. Finding a decent and affordable house in Qatar isn’t an easy game. And when it comes to middle-income single men, the game gets only tougher.

JustHere speaks to male residents who struggle to find a spot in a “family-dominated” society.

When Rashid K. moved to Qatar four years ago, there was one worry off his list. He had relatives here, all bachelors themselves, who offered him a room in a villa at Doha Jadeed. With an entry-level job at a studio, Rashid was tight on budget. Luckily, his rent came up to only QR500 per month.

However, recently, there was a ‘SALE’ sign put up at his villa in Doha Jadeed, and other buildings in the vicinity. These villas were old and dilapidated, and hence would be demolished to make way for new apartments.

To Rashid’s dismay, the new properties will be “exclusively for families”.

The date of demolition is fast approaching, and Rashid has been frantically searching for a place to stay. “Each time I contact advertisers of rental apartments, I am left disappointed. The first thing they ask me is: bachelor or family. When I say bachelor, they say no.”

Like Rashid, many men coming to Qatar face a major hindrance due to their “no family” status. They may not necessarily be unmarried, but as long as you are without your family in Qatar, you are considered a ‘bachelor’. And sadly, bachelors are not the first choice as tenants for landlords.

Rizwan*, a Sri Lankan expat, had his family stay over in Qatar for a year. As soon as his family went back, the landlord requested him to vacate. Reason being, the building was only for families.

He’s now moved to a three-bedroom apartment in Bin Mahmoud that he shares with two other bachelors. The rent is pretty affordable – QR4,500 split between the three of them.

A year went by hassle-free, until recently, when a notice was stuck on their main door, asking them to vacate as the building served families only.

“We just renewed our contract with the landlord, he hasn’t told us anything directly. So I am not searching for a new flat yet,” says Rizwan.

A year went by hassle-free, until recently, when a notice was stuck on their main door, asking them to vacate as the building served families only.

Most landlords are reluctant to rent flats to bachelors if the particular building has a majority of families. They could cause problems explains Bahar, a landlord of a villa in Dafna. “When there are a lot of bachelors under one roof, it could lead to fights. They are noisy, they stay out late, come back home late, etc,” he says. “I don’t mind renting a flat to a bachelor, but I would allow only a maximum of two in one flat. I wouldn’t accept a group of bachelors.”

On a tight budget

The cost of living in Qatar is ever rising, and housing rents seem to top the list of expenses for most residents.

Bachelors who prefer to stay by themselves generally opt for studio apartments, which are relatively cheaper too. The average cost of one would be QR2,500.

But availability is a question. “There’s a long waiting list for these,” says Jassim*, an Egyptian expat who has been in Qatar since 10 months.

In Jassim’s case, finding an apartment has been a nightmare, also because of his residency status. He doesn’t have a permanent visa yet, and hence is unable to arrange for cheques. Landlords in Qatar generally ask post-dated cheques as a sign of guarantee. “I was asked to pay 12 months cheque in advance, plus insurance and half-month’s maintenance for a flat that I had booked. The landlord insisted on cheques, so I had to let go of the apartment.”

Several real estate companies like Al Asmakh Real Estate, Ezdan Real Estate and Professional Real Estate Qatar that JustHere spoke to didn’t have rules against helping bachelors with housing. But vacant low-budget rooms were not readily available, they said.

Raj K, who moved to Qatar a few months back, doesn’t rely on estate companies any more. “I found an apartment in Msheireb through Ezdan Real Estate. But the day I had to sign the contract, they suddenly increased the rent by 10% stating management decision,” he says.

Currently, Raj stays in a two bedroom apartment with his friends in Al Jazeera serviced apartments. They pay QR350 per day, which costs over QR10,000 per month. “That’s just too much to afford. Plus, since there are two  beds provided in each room, it gets uncomfortable sharing one room.”

Continued on Page 2

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