Are you considering emigrating from the UK? There’s a whole world of possibilities out there, but two popular choices are worlds apart: Qatar and the United States. Whatever you decide, however, you must consider some key issues relating to the cost of living and banking.
Cost of living
The currency in Qatar is Qatari Rial (QR). One British Pound Sterling (GBP) is equivalent to 5.52 QR. According to the recent Consumer Price index (CPI) released by Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA), the CPI for March 2013 reached 113.9, showing an increase of 0.4% compared to February 2013 and an increase of 3.6% compared to the CPI of March 2012. In contrast to February 2013, prices have gone up for five major categories.
Entertainment, recreation & culture have increased by 0.9% as a result of price increase in tourism. Food, beverages & tobacco have risen by 0.7% as a result of price increases in fresh fruits and vegetables. Rent, fuel and energy have gone up by 0.7% while furniture, textiles and home appliances increased by 0.3%. Owing to a rise in travel fares, transport and communications have also increased by 0.6%. On the other hand, given the lucrative employment packages for expats in Qatar and the lure of tax-free salaries, it is not surprising that many people have chosen to relocate to Qatar.
One US Dollar is equivalent to 1.52 GBP. The cost of living in the United States can vary depending on location, income and lifestyle. CNN Money has an online calculator that enables you to calculate how far you can stretch your salary if you move from one city to another within the United States. For example, if you are currently earning US Dollar 50,000 and live in San Francisco in California but want to live in New York (Manhattan), you would have to pay 28% more for groceries, 46% more for housing, 57% more for utilities, 10% more for transport, and 14% more for health care. You may agree that San Francisco and New York have one of the highest numbers of rich Americans and best-paying jobs. On the other hand, the high salary may be eroded by the high cost of living, particularly for housing.
Indeed New York was ranked 41st among 51 largest metropolitan cities by Forbes, which looked at the average annual wage in 2011 to rank the cities with the highest income when adjusted for cost of living. The relatively low cost of living puts Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown at the top of the list even though the average annual wage in 2011 was USD 59,838 and the eighth highest in the US. While The ratio of the median home price as compared to median annual household income in Houston was only 2.9, it was 6.7 times in San Francisco. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and Detrio-Warran-Livonia took second and third places respectively.
Similar to the United States, Qatar has a well-structured network of local and international banks which provide a full range of banking and financial services. Many international banks have established their presence in Qatar, including HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered. Banks in Qatar are generally opened from Sunday to Thursday from 8.00am to 4pm and are usually closed on Friday and Saturday. With the influx of Western expats, credit cards are becoming more widely accepted at many stores.
Most international banks have automatic teller machines (ATMs) located at branches, shopping malls and hotels in Doha, the capital city. The ATM services offered by international banks in Qatar and the United States are similar. For example, it’s common to be able to withdraw cash, deposit cash/cheques into your account, transfer money between accounts, request mini-statements, and pay utility and credit card bills. In the United States, many ATMS are voice assisted enabling bank customers who are blind or visually impaired to receive spoken instructions.
Before making your decision, you should also consider compare other factors like your expatriate employment package, language, culture, customs, climate, health care, and education. This is a good resource for those seeking additional advice about emigrating.