Are you looking out to rent a residential premise in Muscat? The time for doing so has never been so good in nearly one and a half decade! House rents in the capital have fallen like never before – there’s much in the offing and few takers.
Believe it or not, you can expect to rent a one-bedroom apartment for as low as RO90 per month or a two-bedroom apartment for less than RO150 these days. The rates vary as per the locality as well as the age of the apartment block or reputation of the housing complex. Depending on amenities offered, you can get a decent family residence for around RO 200-250. And, if you need more space and independence, you can even expect to rent out a 2-3 bedroom villa in good condition for anything around RO300-350.
This was exactly the scene in Muscat nearly two decades ago when there were surplus properties available for rent and the demand was rather low. However, the situation changed drastically when there was a spurt in the number of expatriates coming in on jobs around 15 years ago. House rents skyrocketed beyond one’s imagination, also because a host of brand new buildings and complexes had thrown open their doors to tenants.
In recent years, the number of expatriates leaving the country because of recessionary trends in a number of professions and companies downsizing their expatriate workforce to meet Omanisation goals, has however, upturned the real estate applecart. And this trend picked up further momentum over the past two years when the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an economic slowdown and the resultant termination of scores of expatriate employment contracts, literally overnight for many. House rents, hence, seem to be swayed by the influx or exodus of expatriates periodically.
What house hunters look for
Most expatriates begin a house hunt only after arriving in Oman. That’s because seeing is believing. No matter how rosy the picture of a house and its location is made out to be in an advertisement or in a social media, visiting the premises in person is what actually makes an individual take a decision.
House hunters, these days, do not quite comprise newcomers to Oman as such; rather they include scores of residents who wish to give up their existing residences for cheaper alternatives or those who desire to move to smaller dwellings or sharing accommodations, having sent their families back home. Hence, the demand studio apartments and one-bedroom flats is greater while a large number of two, three, four and five bedroom apartments and villas have been lying vacant for years.
While CBD/MBD and Ruwi/Wadi Kabir was once the popular haunt of house hunters, the focus has now shifted to Al Khuwayr, Ghubra, Seeb, Mabelah, Amerat as well as new complexes beyond Ghubra and near the new international airport terminal, all of which offer better amenities as well as a better quality of life. There are a host of shopping arcades, malls, cafes and restaurants in these areas as well as avenues for leisure and entertainment which are missing in what was once considered ‘downtown Muscat’.
House hunters currently look for furnished or semi furnished apartments in order to avoid exorbitant costs of buying new furniture. The preference is also for those apartments which provide fitted air-conditioners, cooking gas connections and kitchen equipment (including cooking ranges, cabinets, chimneys, etc) washing machines and other appliances. Those seeking sharing accommodation also look for free WiFi as well as paid utility bills (water, electricity) included in the room tariff.
The going rates
If you are seeking a one-bedroom flat, expect to pay around RO150. This would vary on the lower side, if the building is old (more than 20 years old) and the amenities are few. However, for a rent of RO 150, one can expect to have fitted air-conditioners as well as internal fittings in the kitchen (like cabinets, fire extinguishers) washing machine/gas connections, ceiling fans, etc. Most new buildings (less than 5-6 years old) offer all these and more. Some have security features like overhead cameras, coded main-door locks, intercoms, etc.
If you are looking for two-bedroom flat, it wouldn’t be a wise decision to pay more than RO200. For this amount, one should expect all the above amenities as in one-bedroom flats as well as other subsidies, depending on the landlord’s discretion, like reserved parking space, etc. Those paying more than RO200 are actually honouring old contracts and could bargain for a better deal with their landlords at the time of the annual renewal of contracts. Suggestions by the tenant to move out often help in an instant reduction in house rents as most landlords are constantly wary of keeping flats empty.
The house rents are much lower in areas beyond Seeb and in Amerat, which is a rather newly developed township and a bit cut away from the main city. So, the rents can drop by at least RO50 as compared to that offered in the rest of Muscat. Hence, a one can expect to rent a two-bedroom flat in these areas for around RO150-160 and a one-bedroom flat for RO100-125. Again, everything would also depend on the amenities that come with these.
If you take a look at some popular websites that lodge offers for rental premises as well as sale/purchase of old furniture, used cars, etc (like OLX Oman, Opensouq.com), you can get an idea of the rates offered. Also, websites of popular real estate agents (like Al Habib) give a good indication of the going residential rents for different areas in the capital.
Whether you need sharing accommodation, an independent apartment or a villa to yourself, it all depends on how good one is at bargaining for the best deal, the economic status of the buyer, as well as the goodwill/reputation of the vendor (whether an individual or firm). So, don’t go by hearsay or experiences of others, try to secure the best deal for yourself. May be, you can strike a good deal like no one else!
If you want to avoid the anxiety associated with house hunting, you can also approach a string of registered real estate agents in Oman who provide expert guidance to striking good deals for the buyers as well as vendors of rented premises. They help you in deciding on the best available to suit your own budget as well as offer secure deals. Most rent agreements between landlords and tenants have to be registered with the local municipality, whether it comes via an agent or between the two parties directly.
Some of the esteemed real estate agents and consultants in Oman, which deal with sale and purchase of commercial/residential property as well as short-term/long-term renting and leasing, include the likes of Al Habib, Savills Oman, Cluttons, Hamptons International, Tibiaan Properties, Al Huda, Wave Homes, Platinum Properties, Era Real Estate, Platinum Properties and many more. These can help one look out for rental premises for rates ranging from RO100 per month to over RO1500 per month, from studio apartments to luxurious villas with covered parking and even private swimming pools.