Saturday, June 07, 2014

Low-Income Housing

With the population growing by 10% (around 200,000 people) a year housing is really becoming difficult to find. It's even worse for people who don't make a lot of money, Doha is an expensive city and for low income workers who do not have housing provided by their employer it can be difficult to find accommodation.

It's easy to see how many people from South or East Asia could be caught off-guard. You're working in your own country for something like $3-5 a day and you get an offer to work in Qatar for a nice salary, plus a housing allowance of around $300-500 (1100 to 1800 QAR) a month. Sounds like a deal, right?

Here's some ads that were posted on a bulletin board at a shopping center:

So that doesn’t even get you a room. If two of you shared the room you’d maybe be able to afford it. If your allowance was double that you’d be able to afford a room on your own -- maybe. I don't think many people who accept jobs with housing allowances realize just how expensive housing is, and many employers don't appear to be raising the salaries or allowances to make up for the spiraling rents.

But how is it that you can rent just a room? The answer is because someone has rented a large villa and then partitioned it into a number of rooms, renting each one out separately. It's quite common and a way to make it affordable for low-income people to find a place to rent, while the landlord can earn more rent than if he simply rented the villa to a family. It does mean though that anywhere from 10-30 people could wind up living in a villa.

The Government has now decided to crack down on the practice.

Down near the bottom of the article says it all – there are no apartments for rent less than 4,500 QAR a month (and I'm guessing anything below 5,000 a month is pretty rare). So if you crack down on the partitioned villas where are the thousands of people who are living in them supposed to go? Have someone rent a one-bedroom apartment then have five people stay there? At least in a partitioned villa you had your own room for some semblance of privacy.

Actually, 1100-1800 QAR is higher than many receive. Check out the follow up article:

One guy is paying 600 QAR a month sharing two rooms with four other guys. The five of them together are facing a 50% rent increase to rent one of those 4,500-a-month apartments. I doubt employers are going to start increasing housing allowances by 50% anytime soon.

I agree with the sentiments of people in the articles, a supply of low-income housing is needed first before cracking down on partitioned villas and throwing people out. The issue is not partitioned villas, it's the lack of affordable housing in the housing market and unrealistic salaries that forces people into this situation. Fix those issues first.


Anonymous said...

Dear Skeptic,

How much do really need to live comfortably in Doha, i has and offer buy local bank ..really apreciate that you could enlighten me with some advice.

Glen McKay said...

Hi. I suggest going to the QatarLiving forums, they have a forum called "salaries and allowances" where people post proposed salaries and people discuss whether that would be sufficient.

As you saw from my post you're probably looking at 5,000 QAR a month for accommodation, you also need a car (probably 50,000 QAR for eight basic New Qatar, or you can shop around for a used one). Food: 70-80 QAR a week if you are buying only the basics, probably 110+ a week for standard groceries, and if you like having lunches out, coffees, etc. you could be spending hundreds a week.

If you are bringing family then costs go up because you need a bigger place, more food and so forth. School fees are apparently very high so you'll need a factor that in as well.

Glen McKay said...

sorry "a basic new car", not "eight basic New Qatar" , don't know what happened there.