What’s driving the costs for expats in Oman?

Expatriates in the Sultanate feel education has been driving their expenses in the last few years, apart from the fuel prices.

Speaking to the Observer, a cross section of the community members said apart from monthly school fees, they have to shell out a good amount on extra-curricular activities and additional classes if the students feel what is taught at school is insufficient.

The cost of living is not so high in Oman. House rents have stabilised, with hardly any major upward changes in rent in the recent times.

Fuel prices have nearly doubled in the last two years, but with transport and logistics sector feeling the pinch of a market slowdown, retailers and suppliers have not passed on the price to consumers at the rate it was expected a few years ago.

“What really affects the expatriate population is the cost escalation in the healthcare and the education sector. To some extent, healthcare can be taken care of through an insurance policy,” said Ahmed, an Egyptian expatriate with a family of six, including three children.

“School fees per se is not expensive, but there are a number of hidden and additional costs, which we cannot afford beyond a point but are also unavoidable,” he said, adding that his company provides health cover only up to two children.

Martin Morris, an Indian expatriate, says the school coaching is not sufficient for children. “We have to spend a lot to promote their hobbies and interests, and supplement their school education.”

With the job market “not stable” for expats, meeting the additional expenses can be difficult. But they still feel Oman is a reasonable place to live.

“With some simple micromanagement, life in Oman is easy for the expat families compared with the same in neighbouring countries. Oman is a great place for expatriates,” said Habib Mohammed, a Pakistan expatriate.

According to InterNations’ Expat Insider, Oman continues to be among the “friendliest places” for expatriates, where people can make friends in quick time.

Meanwhile, the inflation rate in Oman, calculated in terms of consumer price index (CPI), rose marginally by 0.10 per cent in March 2018, over the same period in 2017, according to National Centre for Statistical Information (NCSI).

The reason for a marginal increase in inflation was due to a rise in cost of major segments like education, which rose by 4.90 per cent, transport costs by 1.29 per cent and furnishing and household equipment by 1.90 per cent in March 2018.

However, food and non-alcoholic beverages group witnessed a 1.52 per cent fall in March this year compared with the same period last year.

Among foods and non-alcoholic beverages, a fall of 11.14 per cent was witnessed in fish and seafood, while prices of vegetables declined by 13.58 per cent.

However, prices of fruits and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 4.19 per cent and 1.74 per cent, respectively.