Today’s interview is with Rachel, a British expat who is living in Qatar.Rachel made the leap from the rural, medieval town of Shrewsbury in England to the desert sands of Doha in the Middle Eastern Country of Qatar in the space of 3 months when her husband was offered a job through an ex-colleague in November 2011. There were challenges in the first few months and it took some time to adjust to the new terrain and to the Expat lifestyle of the Middle East but as a Creative and an Entrepreneur Rachel soon spotted an opportunity to develop an exciting and colourful Interactive Blog and Information website dedicated to the people of Qatar hence Funky Qatar Blog was born! Rachel’s expat blog is called Funky Qatar Blog.
Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in the small town of Shrewsbury in the County of Shropshire, England
In which country and city are you living now?
I am now living in the City of Doha in Qatar with my husband.
How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been in Doha for 1 year, 3.5 months, we plan on staying here for another year at least!
Why did you move and what do you do?
My husband is an Engineer, he was asked by an ex colleague who moved to Doha if he would be interested in working out here too, we discussed it and decided to go for it!- 3 months later we were in Doha! When I was living in the UK I established a small yet innovative party catering business and I also worked part-time in Administration.
As a creative person I have always enjoyed painting, illustration and design and I have been doing much more of this type of work since moving to Doha. I am also really enjoying writing for my Blog and I hope to do much more writing in the future.
Did you bring family with you?
I don’t currently have any children of my own but I do have a very large family back in the UK. I am one of seven siblings and I have 10 nieces and a nephew! If I had brought them all here we would have needed our own jet!
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
My first year in Doha was a little up and down. It was a shock to the system to come to somewhere so completely different to my green and rural medieval home town. I miss my family and friends but I love the everyday sunshine in Doha and have made some great new friends here. I have also worked out what I want to do career wise and feel that things are starting to fall into place with that.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We had some friends from home living in Doha when we arrived and they have really helped us, they introduced us to their friends who became our friends too. We do mainly socialise with other Expats but we have met people from many different nationalities. I feel that I have learned alot from and about these people, it has changed me for the better.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
There are so many great things to do in Qatar! There are a great number of fantastic restaurants with really high standards in Doha and it is mostly relatively cheap to eat out here. The Souq Waqif is my favourite place in Doha because of the atmosphere there, it feels very Middle Eastern. The sounds, smells and shopping experience are all very enigmatic.
What do you enjoy most about living here?
I like the freedom that the good weather brings. In the UK we we stay indoors much more because of the cold and rain. The dark days and the long winters in England can be really unsettling. In Doha I wake up every day to sunshine and its very uplifting. We go out in the evening much more here, we can sit in outdoor cafes with friends until late and we can relax by the pool at the weekends for most of the year. However there is a flip-side to this as during the summer it is often too hot to stay out doors for very long during the day and night.
How does the cost of living compare to home?
The wage is certainly better than the UK for white collar workers and this affords more privileges. But I would say that rent and food prices are similar to England. Where we live utilities are much, much cheaper than at home & it is cheaper to eat out. Electrical goods are a little cheaper but I have found that Clothes cost about the same if not slightly more than in the UK.
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I miss my friends an family obviously and the Healthcare system (although good) is not quite as straightforward or familiar as it is at home. There is also some poverty in Doha amoungst the lower paid workers and this is upsetting.
There are restrictions on the sale & consumption of alcohol here and rules about dress for men and women in public places, this bothers some people but not me particularly.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
I would advise anyone moving here to thoroughly research, the customs, rules and regulations of the Country for themselves and to pay particular attention to any work contracts offered to them making sure that they understand fully what they are entering into before they come here.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Living away from my family and friends.
When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
This is a good question! I don’t know for sure, I will definitely miss the sunshine! But as usual I will focus on what I have gained rather than what has been lost.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- Focus on the positives about a new place and make the most of them .
- Give yourself plenty of time to settle in- it can take a long time!
- Make an effort to make friends.
- Do your research before coming here.
- Make an effort to keep in touch with the people who are important to you at home.
Published by ” Expats Blog”