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Advice for a new arrival please.

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chockice
5/6/2009 03:58 EST

Any advice for a new arrival would be gratefully received.

Married with two kids (4 years & 16 months), looking for info on schools, cost of living, cars, utilities (particularly phone). Good areas to live as an ex-pat (British), my employer will provide a house so I don't need to worry about the expense of that but don't want to end up in a rubbish area.

Also, have heard that internet access is slow to obtain and some websites are barred - is this true? (particularly interested in access to financial websites).

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ExpatMum
5/15/2009 02:29 EST

Hi Chockice -

I'm not sure where to start :)

The traffic in Doha is dreadful, so things will come down to location-location-location for you. The expats are spread out all over town, so you don't need to worry about being isolated from other expats.

Your biggest worry will be getting your 4yo into a school here in Doha. As a UK passport holder you'll have preference to get into DESS (Doha English Speaking School), but even with the passport it is tough to get in. Depending on where you live, you might also consider Doha College, Int'l School of London and Compass. My 4yo will be attending the "old" campus of Compass in the fall. They are opening a new campus this fall as well, so you may have a chance for spaces there.

If you are able to come for a look-see trip then it would definitely help you with the school situation - you'd be able to get your kids on the waiting list now rather than later. If you want to put the 16month old in nursery at all then you'll want to get him/her on the waiting list as well.

The cost of living isn't too bad aside from the rent. For a villa in a nice compound you will likely pay ~25kQR/month. I highly, highly recommend being in a compound, especially with kids.

I don't know exactly what it costs for the phone. Long distance calls are pricey, but the local setup isn't too bad. Internet service isn't bad either, though it can take a month or so to get set up.

Generally speaking, the only websites that you won't be able to access are those with "indecent content". Every so often a random website will be blocked, but they tend to be unblocked once someone complains (or so I hear).

Your wife will want to know about our mums & kids group, Doha Expat Mums & Kids, which she can join upon arriving. She can find out more at http://www.dohaexpatmumsandkids.com

Best,

ExpatMum

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fhabib
3/3/2010 02:15 EST

Hi,
I think I get most of the information from your previous message, but did you mention 25000 QR per month for rent, it is approx 6700 US $ per month. Also do you know any good web site for kids school?
Thanks,

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ExpatMum
3/3/2010 12:46 EST

There really aren't any centralized websites for schools, unfortunately.

What it really comes down to is

(1) which school has space for your child
(2) which curriculum you prefer and
(3) where you'll be living.

Some of the popular schools include:
American School of Doha (very difficult to get into)
Compass (very expensive)
DESS (only if you have a British passport)
Park House
International School of London
Sherbourne

Qatarvisitor.com has some good info - you might try looking there, as well as Iloveqatar.net

Good luck!

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cameroni
4/12/2010 22:17 EST

I will probably be moving to Doha from New Zealand at the end of May 2010 with my wife, 16 year old son and small dog.
I am looking for advice on getting accommodation, preferably a villa that will accept our small dog.
Also looking for advice on a school for my son. We are from Scotland but he has been studying under the English GCSE system in NZ.

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ExpatMum
4/13/2010 09:01 EST

Hi Cameroni -

Your best bet is to secure your son's schooling first and then look for housing - the former is much more difficult than the latter. The traffic in Doha is a real drag, and your wife will not be amused if she has to trek across town twice daily - just trust me on that one :)

You'll want to look at Doha College (if they take non-UK passport holders) and the American School. Doha Montessori (not actually a Montessori school) and Compass Int'l School (Rayyan campus) might offer high school by the September term, too. Schooling is not cheap here - plan to spend >QR50,000 per year.

You will want to apply ASAP (as in now) because there are many expats leaving and you'll want to be on the waiting lists. If he doesn't get in this fall then there is also an active homeschooling group here in Doha - if you google "doha home educators" it should pop up.

With respect to housing, I would check with NelsonPark Property
at . She's an Aussie and will understand what you are looking for :) You can also reach her at +974 660-3430.

For what it's worth, it was very, very easy to get our dog from the US to Doha - there's no need to hire a pet relocator. We did it ourselves when we moved from Melbourne to the US as well. I think it cost us $US2,000 that we would have spent on a pet relocator.

Let your wife know about Doha Mums (http://www.dohamums.com), too. We have an average of 70+ events per month, and our members have kids ranging from infants to high schoolers. You can reach me (or our group mentor) through the contact page of the website, and feel free to call me when you get here at 692-5699.

Cheers,

Roxanne

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