Monday, August 29, 2016

The Price of Living in Kuwait

Lets start with the new increase in gas prices in Kuwait - Coming to a pump near you on September 1.

Kuwait Increase in Gasoline Prices - Calculator:  Here is some'in interesting:   a fuel calculator of how much you are paying now for gas in Kuwait (by care make/model/year) vs how much you are about to pay with the random increase in price:  I supposedly own a Chevrolet "Caniro".  That must be Arabic for Camaro.  Hmmm.  I'll be paying about 3 KD more per fill up.  Good times.

Question:  Where is the money going?  To repair streets?  To enforce traffic laws?

Maybe they could reduce costs if (now get this...) the gas stations were self-serve and accepted credit cards at the pump.  Holy sh*t - now there's a thought!

It's not like Western countries where gas costs more because it is imported and then gas companies pay millions in marketing.

Are you here to save money?

Ya know - people used to come to Kuwait to save money.  Not so anymore.  You think you can save here, but you just get by.  My Kuwaiti friends (who enjoy lots of government subsidies) are just scraping by at the end of the month.  Food costs are pretty high here.  Rent is outrageous (and don't believe the hype about rents decreasing - that's BS).  You can't own anything, so you are giving your money away for free to building owners and often you don't even get maintenance with that - even when it is in writing.  For what I pay in rent, I could be paying a mortgage on a VERY nice property in the US.

I didn't come here to save money (but word of advice to my younger self:  save money!).  I came for a different quality of life.

Quality of Life

When I came here, Kuwait was a lazy little laid-back town where you weren't so drained from work that you could get around to see all your friends and do a few activities that made you happy.  Like parties on weekends or whatever.  Now, I'm afraid to go to parties for fear of raids or being harassed at checkpoints (and I also can no longer stand the loud music and smoke).   I am too physically/emotionally drained to see friends because I'm working hard and stressing about things that perhaps I shouldn't be.  Getting to and from anywhere is a stresser:  Traffic is so bad that I don't want to leave the house anymore.  Literally. You have to have multiple eyes around your head to see predator drivers coming at you from multiple angles. Shopping is not fun.  You have to plan your logistics:  Pick a route, time of day, day of the week, location with easy parking access.  It's all a big pain in the azz.  People are downright rude and you feel like you get shot down if you try to be polite, smile, or make small conversation (in any language).  Of course, I'm generalizing, but when you get poked enough with small pins you get deflated and don't want to do the things you used to do.

Melancholy after vacation?

I write about this stuff usually right after I return from a vacation.  But I've been writing about it/thinking about it more often over the past few years.  The re-entry into Kuwait is becoming more difficult. Is it because I'm getting a little older (29++) or is it just that things are changing here?  Maybe a little of both?


Malik Umair said...

i am here since 27 years and yes things aren't the same. Good old days of $100+/barrel and Iraq war is over and things aren't looking great in coming future. lets see how it goes.

Mimi said...

Amen! With rent prices increasing (our building no longer provides maintenance), school fees, now petrol prices and with all the talks about electricity and water increasing next year, it sure is getting harder to just get by!

American Girl said...

I think it's a little of both. I too got exhausted from the logistics of a simple trip to the super market. And the mall? I tried to avoid them all and do my shopping online when I could. I once enjoyed the hustle and bustle until a trip to the Starbucks 3 miles away turned into 20 minutes in traffic. Even the desert we frequented in the winter became a construction site and was totally off limits. I found myself longing for the simplicity that Kuwait once offered. The only thing I miss now are family and friends.

Desert Girl said...

Thanks for the comments. I was wondering if it was just me. I honestly don't have the strength to go out anymore. It is too stressful.

American Girl - we have had to go deeper into the desert to find peace. It has been the only place where you can rest. But all the desert spots that most people go to are just trash dumps for rude, entitled little shyts on noisy buggies. SO not worth it.

Nawaf AL-Rudaini said...

Sadly, this is the situation we are living in. You mentioned some of your fears and encounters that you'd think that only expat would face .. but as locals we face them as well. There is an increased desire from young Kuwaitis to leave Kuwait and move to Qatar or the UAE.

Desert Girl said...

Nawaf -

I am glad that you mentioned that. So many of my Kuwaiti friends are (and I intentionally choose this term) defecting. The older ones are more reluctant because they have more family obligations - children, businesses, etc. - but then they buy property in other countries and spend a good amount of their time outside of Kuwait. (How many times have I heard, "If I didn't have.... I would leave Kuwait.) The younger Kuwaitis are more depressed and lack hope in the future here; which, I believe, is quite justified. My advice - if you can go while you're young - GO. Have peace and find happiness because I don't think it lives here anymore.

There seems to be a trend towards eliminating the middle class in Kuwait. Most people are just getting by. And Kuwaiti salaries aren't enough to make ends meet. My Kuwaiti friends (even the ones who live at home with family = 0 rent) don't have much to live on at the end of the month once the bills are paid. And the very wealthy aren't in Kuwait very often, are they? Maybe to do business and get out again. The poor are stuck in an endless cycle.

You (Kuwaitis) can still make a decent living and save money/own property in UAE and Qatar. Even Bahrain. And have a better quality of life. And at least in Qatar and Bahrain you can still find true Arab hospitality, generosity, and integrity. You know - the way Kuwait used to be 20-25 years ago. :(

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of Kuwaitis moving to Qatar or UAE. When Kuwaitis move to other GCC countries, it's usually because they are dual citizens who have forged nationality.

There are many Saudis and Qataris and Emiratis who got the Kuwaiti nationality by fraud and forgery.

For the Kuwaiti youth, Kuwait has markedly progressed over the past few years. Since 2013, a massive cyclone of new art, new culture, new alliances, new collaborations, new ways of viewing, new ways of listening, and new ways of being that are flourishing in their ubiquity. Every day, it seems, dozens of “cultural” events take place in Kuwait. They don’t need to stem from a specific institution. They are mobile, they are cross-sectional, they are abundant. We must not perpetuate the old mistake. We must not ignore the renaissance that artists, musicians, writers, sculptures, and performers are experiencing in Kuwait!

In terms of events & activities, Kuwait is almost outpacing Dubai on a weekly basis.

You got open-markets, music festivals, art galleries, go-kart racing, freestyle dance battles, graffiti workshops, kite-surfing clubs, entrepreneur workshops, tech collaborations, gaming conventions, and the list goes on and on.

As a young Kuwaiti, it's hard to deny or ignore the positive changes occurring in Kuwait. Even, Fajer the Lawyer noted that Kuwait is undergoing many positive changes:

Nawaf AL-Rudaini said...

DG ... I'm not young anymore :X
At least I have a job at a great job. a job that I love.

Anonymous: there are PURE Kuwaitis (not dual citizens) who have moved to the UAE and Qatar over the past 10 years. I know some who moved, and I know some who are strongly considering it.
You mentioned that the youth have a lot of options (outpacing Dubai in events) for the past 3 years. That's fine, but what about the families and older people like myself? Go-karting, freestyle dance battles, graffiti workshops, kite surfing are not for me or my kids.

Desert Girl said...

Thanks for responding, Nawaf. I was waiting for a Kuwaiti to reply on that one. Better a first-hand perspective.

And I agree with you - most of the activities and "cultural events" - seem to be centered around younger people. Kuwaiti culture to me is more about history and the past; kind of what Qatar is trying to preserve for it's people, not re-invent. But that is my take.

There are numerous articles (local and international) on how Kuwait is losing citizens to other countries, so I don't think I'm far off the mark on this one.

Spartan Muslimah said...

I have been offered a job (personal trainer) with salary of 400 kd which is around £1000. The package included accommodation, transport to work and flight. My question is can I survive on that amount and send back home at least £600 every month?