The real estate market in Kuwait is made up of apartments (flats), villas (medium size houses), and floors (which occupy a single floor of a house or villa), unfortunately expats are not allowed to own land or property so renting is the only options.
Renting a property in Kuwait can become an adventure for newcomers to Kuwait. When an employer brings their staff to Kuwait they usually provide housing in the beginning. Online listings and classified ads in the local English-language newspapers are available options. Word of mouth from fellow employees is always helpful.
Your first month in Kuwait:
During your first month in Kuwait you will go through the residency process and in most cases your housing is take care of. If you do not having provided houses there are many hotels and short-term furnished apartments available.
After the first month:
Once you receive your visa 18 and Civil ID you are on your way to finding a place of your own. There are many buildings and areas to choose from so staying in a short-term furnished property would be ideal, giving you time to find that perfect place to call home.
Finding a place to call home:
Real Estate Companies: The easiest way to find a property is from real estate companies who maintain a database of different properties available. You will speak with an agent giving them your ideal location and property specifications, the agent will provide a list of properties to be viewed. Be sure to inquire as to how much the agency charges for their services. These companies usually have English speaking agents for those who do not speak Arabic.
English-language newspapers, magazines and online directories: There are hundreds of ads online many of which are not updated daily and are managed by Arabic speaking agents making it difficult for expats to communicate with. The English-language newspapers have a few ads in the classified sections and throughout the paper many of which have agents who speak limited English.
Rental costs vary depending on location, size, floor view and amenities provided. Furnished units are higher in price compared to unfurnished units as are short-term leases.
The usual leases are signed for a period of one year. A security deposit of at least a month’s rental will be required to secure the property.
The rental agreement is usually in Arabic so be sure to request one in English. Bear in mind though that if you have a dispute with the landlord the Arabic version will be the only one accepted.
Tips on renting:
Be sure to ask about the buildings tenants, is it a family building or a mixture which may include bachelors who tend to have guests and parties all night long. Family buildings will more than likely have children running around unsupervised all hours of the day and night so be sure to check it out at different times of the day and night especially.
Is internet and cable/satellite including in the rental package? Who pays for utilities? Does the building have basement or covered parking? In the summer your car will be an oven if not covered.
Haris (building manager) will usually collect your trash and wash your car with a monthly fee of 10 KD which is not included in the rent. The garbage containers are sometimes far from the building so it’s worth the 5 KD paid for the service. He will wash your car which consists of water and a rag, if you have a nice car you can provide him with soap and accessories to be used on your car. The haris (for a small fee) will help you with little things around the house (changing light bulbs, painting etc) or he will know someone who can help you with bigger tasks.
Majority of apartments in Kuwait only have a/c with no heat for the winter so you will have to purchase a small heater for the winter. Make sure you check for central a/c as some units only come with individual a/c units for each room.
Ideas when house-hunting in Kuwait
Expats should confirm whether or not utilities are included in the rent as water and electricity can be a separate expense the tenant has to cover.
Parking is a huge issue and major complaint in Kuwait. When viewing a property be sure to ask about the parking space location and how many spaces each apartment is allowed.