What I Wish I Had Done Differently My First Month in Oman

A typical Omani kitchen in a brand new house. In this house all the bedrooms with stuffed full with new beds and matching wardrobes but the landlord assured me the kitchen would be left like this for the tenant to do with it as they pleased.

I arrived in Oman nervous and flustered, a bit bewildered and mostly desperate to make it through to the first big paycheck. The purpose of this post, reader, is to lay out for you what I wish I had done differently just in case perhaps this information might help you along your way. Each situation, is of course very different. You might arrive to Oman and find that you have a job that provides accommodation for you, for example. In any case, I hope that the reader finds the following points helpful.

1. I Wish I Had Rented a Furnished Apartment, Ready to Live in For Just the First Month.

In Oman, there are two kinds of apartments, furnished and unfurnished. Reader, I’m a Cancer. I love nesting. I knew I did not want to live with somebody else’s old furniture. I knew I was planning to stay in the country for a long time and so I looked only at unfurnished apartments because I planned to take the hollow mess of a house and make it my very own home. #cottagecoreaesthetic #hygge

Looking at unfurnished apartments was a mistake because when apartments come unfurnished here, they come unfurnished. No curtain rods, no curtains. No kitchen cupboards, no fridge, no stove. I ended up renting a house which was, what one friend called, a hot mess. I choose it because it was miles better than another apartment I’d seen just hours earlier, it was an incredible price, and it also had architectural features that I really loved. However, upon closer inspection I realized that the water smelled putrid and over the course of weeks, this didn’t go away. The door frames were so far from the wall that the light leaks when you shut the front doors were big enough that a medium snake could slither through if they choose to (not to mention insects or mice).

I came to my job around the 20th of the month, did not have a full paycheck and was not given an advance for furniture. When payday came, I had about 400 OMR to play with after I had paid rent. It wasn’t enough to make my unfurnished, fixer-upper flat livable. I blew almost the whole amount on a mattress and a fridge because I wanted things that would last.

Reader, I should have rented a furnished flat. Most landlords here (it is probably different in the bigger cities) do not make tenants sign contracts and so it would have been no problem to move on at the end of the month.

2. I Wish I Had Rented a Car

You can’t live in Oman without a car. Well, that’s not true. I have at least two co-workers who do not drive. But what I mean when I say that is that it’s hard to live in Oman without a car.

I wish I had rented a car my first month in Oman. You can rent a car for 150 OMR a month. Perhaps cheaper if you know the right people. I do not recommend long-term car rental in Oman because car prices and petrol is so cheap here, almost everyone buys a car. But for the first few months, I think renting a car is vital.

3. I Wish I Had Been More Picky About Who I Gave My Number To

Be careful who you give your number to in Oman because they will call you and call you and call you. They will text you and get upset when you do not text back within hours.

Texting culture is different here. Even among the expats, I’ve noticed. People here will begin a texting conversation with you and expect you to respond in real time and if they can’t, they’ll give you a reason as to why there might be some delay in their response. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m driving right now” or “I’m in a meeting but I’ll respond to this when I’m finished” are real messages I have received from expats within minutes of them receiving my text. For me, this is really quite strange because it’s common for me to carry on a text conversation with my friends over the span of hours or days. In fact, I find it alarming when people text me back right away because I’m suddenly gripped by anxiety and expectation. Are they going to call me now? Is it suddenly 2009?

Reader, it is 2009.

4. I Wish I Had Made Personal Time a Priority

Oman is a very small country and to be honest, as an expat (even more so as a woman), your circle of friends can be limited. My five weeks in Oman were spent doing a lot more socializing than I had expected. As a result, I know a whole lot more about the folks in my area than I ever wished to. I would suggest that you unwrap the members of your new friend group as slowly as you would an exquisitely packaged gift; and be prepared put on that #presentface.

A common sight when tenants don’t have the means to put up curtain rods. Having lived in Europe where blackout blinds and shutters are common, I have no idea why they aren’t the standard in the Middle East
A hot mess of a front door which will not keep back any of that desert sand once the wind starts blowing.
A typical kitchen in a ready-to-rent home in Oman

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