- Download our Moving to Oman Guide (PDF)
The cost of living in Oman is more reasonable than in many neighbouring countries, and income is generally tax-free. Prices are highest in the capital city, and according to the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Muscat ranks 130th out of 227 cities, making it costlier than Athens and Wellington but cheaper than Buenos Aires and Lisbon.
Expat packages in Oman for highly skilled Western workers still seem to be generous and tend to offer good salaries, accommodation, a car, bonuses, flights home and medical insurance. But some things are too good to be true: as comprehensive as these contracts seem, there are always unforeseen costs.
Watch out for the added cost of things like visa-related health checks. School fees are also a big add-on cost. Another thing that has been a big problem in the recent past and could be a financial issue for expats when working in Oman is relative job insecurity. While this is being addressed, it is not an easy fix and could be more of a concern for expats than employment packages and cost of living.
Cost of accommodation in Oman
Accommodation costs in Oman are much more affordable than many expat destinations, with lower rent and utility expenses. New homes are constantly popping up, so it is easy to find a place that fits any budget, mood and style. That said, costs do vary with size, facilities and area. Many rentals come unfurnished, so shipping and buying furniture are additional costs, and utilities such as water, gas and electricity are generally excluded from the quoted rental price.
New arrivals should note that some landlords may ask for advance lump sums equivalent to four, six or 12 months’ rent in advance. In some cases, it’s possible to pay rent monthly too, so it is important to understand the lease contract.
Cost of transport in Oman
The cost of using a car in Oman is much cheaper than in Europe. As a result, virtually every expat drives, and few use public transport – though buses are a cheaper alternative. Taxis are also good value – there is a metered fare to gauge the price, and passengers can often negotiate this if they are not satisfied with the amount.
Cost of groceries in Oman
European expats will find the cost of food and drink to be cheaper in Oman, while others may find it pricier. Regardless, though, if one is willing to buy local products, it’s an easy way to save money.
That said, Oman has introduced a ‘sin tax’ on certain products – such as tobacco, alcohol, pork and energy drinks, among others – that have increased the prices of these items dramatically. Therefore, the cost of purchasing these products in Oman will be exorbitant.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Oman
Eating out can be costly, and if they want a drink, expats will have to frequent expensive Western-style hotels. If someone doesn’t mind forgoing alcohol, there is a wide array of independent ‘dry’ establishments where meals are excellent and reasonably priced.
Sadly, tourist activities are highly overpriced. On the flip side, beach activities cost next to nothing, cinema tickets are relatively cheap, and the Royal Opera House, a must-see, has internationally competitive prices.
Buying alcohol in Oman can be complicated and costly, and there are strict laws and lifestyle customs to abide by. Expats who would like to buy and drink alcohol in Oman must procure a liquor permit, and the amount of alcohol they can buy is limited to their monthly income. It is illegal to purchase alcohol that exceeds 10 percent of one’s monthly income. An authorised residence card is required to get a permit.
Alcohol can only be bought and consumed in establishments and restaurants that have a proper licence to sell it, and if rules are not followed, expats can face hefty fines. With a liquor permit, expats can also buy alcohol from bottle stores for home consumption.
Cost of healthcare in Oman
Citizens of Oman and other member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council can access public healthcare for free. Other expats get a subsidised rate when using the public healthcare system but tend to opt for private options.
Health insurance is a must when moving to Oman, and most companies will offer it to the entire family as part of the employment package. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of any insurance offered to ensure it covers dental, optical and mental healthcare too.
Cost of education in Oman
The cost of schooling is a huge expense if your employer does not cover it – especially if an expat has several children. While there are public schools, expats generally opt for costly international and private schooling, and many schools require fees to be paid before the first day of the term.
Although international schools in Oman are pricey, they typically offer a wide range of global curricula and offer English as the language of instruction. Moreover, these schools typically have excellent facilities, teaching standards and engaging extracurricular activities.
Cost of living in Oman chart
Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices for Muscat in February 2024.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Pack of chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes
|Big Mac Meal
|Local beer (500ml)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and data
|Internet (uncapped – average per month)
|Utilities (gas, electricity, water – one month for small apartment)
|City-centre bus fare
|Taxi (rate per km)
|Petrol (per litre)
What do expats say about living costs in Oman?
"With the introduction of the sin tax, beverages, alcohol, pork, cigarettes and imported food are at least double the price compared to that in my home country." Read more about what Caroline, a Kenyan expat, has to say about life in Oman.
"I earn in Omani rial, so the cost of living is not that high for me. One thing I have learned is not to convert. The Omani rial is a very strong currency, which makes travelling quite cheap. Bonus!" Read more about South African expat Anika's experience in Oman.
►For more on managing your finances in Oman, see Banking, Money and Taxes in Oman
Are you an expat living in Oman?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Oman. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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