Expats will find the cost of living in Oman more reasonable than that of many neighbouring countries, and income is generally tax-free. Prices are highest in the capital city and, according to the 2021 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Muscat ranks 108th out of 209 cities, making it more expensive than Athens and Glasgow but cheaper than Jakarta and Barcelona.

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 the 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

Expats will be happy to find that accommodation costs 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 in the quoted rental price.

New arrivals must note that some tenants may ask for advanced lump sums, paying rent for the year in advance, or every six or four months. In some cases it's possible for rent to be paid 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 food and entertainment in Oman

European expats will find the cost of food and drink to be cheaper in Oman, while others may find it more expensive. Regardless, though, if one is willing to buy local products instead, 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. Purchasing of these products will therefore be extremely expensive in Oman. 

Alcohol

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. 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. 

Entertainment

Eating out can be costly, and if wanting a drink, expats will have to frequent expensive Western-style hotels. If a person doesn't mind foregoing the booze, there is a wide array of independent ‘dry’ establishments, where the food is excellent and reasonably priced. 

Sadly, tourist activities are highly overpriced. On the flip side, though, beach activities cost next to nothing, cinema tickets are relatively cheap and the Royal Opera House, a must-see, has internationally competitive prices.


Cost of healthcare in Oman

Citizens of Oman and other member countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf can access public healthcare for free. Other expats get a subsidised rate with public healthcare but tend to opt for private options. Health insurance is a must when moving to Oman and most companies offer will it to the entire family as part of the employment package. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of the insurance to ensure it covers dentistry and mental health too.


Cost of schooling in Oman

The cost of schooling is a huge expense if the company does not pay – especially if an expat has several children. While there are public schools, expats generally opt for international and private schooling, which is costly and many schools demand that fees are paid before the first day of the term.


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 December 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

OMR 175–400

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

OMR 350–600

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

OMR 125–300

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

OMR 225–500

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

OMR 0.60

Dozen eggs

OMR 0.96

Loaf of white bread

OMR 0.40

Rice (1kg)

OMR 0.75

Pack of chicken breasts (1kg)

OMR 2.30

Pack of cigarettes

OMR 2.25

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

OMR 2.50

Coke (330ml)

OMR 0.35

Cappuccino

OMR 1.88

Local beer (500ml)

OMR 4.50

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

OMR 10.75

Utilities

Mobile call rate (minute-to-minute)

OMR 0.06

Internet (uncapped - average per month)

OMR 29.65

Utilities (gas, electricity, water - average per month)

OMR 27.80

Transport

City-centre bus fare

OMR 0.50

Taxi (rate per km)

OMR 0.20

Petrol (per litre)

OMR 0.22