I feel obligated to make this post in the spirit of transparency. But I am also going to be very careful as these woods are patrolled.
Oman is a gorgeous country with a capital city full of amazing restaurants and luxury hotels so naturally the cost of living is not exactly low.
I’m not going to post my exact salary here but it’s safe to say that I make between 1200 and 1500 omr per a month. I have friends who work pretty much the same job as I do, just at different locations (universities) and they make between 1000 and 1800 omr per a month depending on years of experience and ah, other factors. Reader, I’m sorry to tell you that we all struggle to save money here. I have not met a single person in this country who has looked me in the face and said they had an easy time saving money or that they thought the cost of living here was relatively low.
Mind you, there are a lot of expats here who make far and above the salaries I posted in the previous paragraph. People working for oil companies should be excluded from this equation.
So, is it easy to save money in Oman? I’ve found it to be extremely difficult. Had I known how difficult it would be, I’m not sure I can say that I would have made the choice to board that 747 although I’m glad I did, the mountains here continue to astound me with their beauty.
Let’s look at a breakdown of my monthly expenses:
Rent: 180 omr
Car rental 163 omr
Internet 30 omr
Electricity 25 omr (ballpark)
Groceries 200 omr
Water 3 omr
Gas 30 omr
Total: 631 omr
So, if I make 1200 omr per a month, that should leave me at 569 omr leftover each month, which is pretty good. Do I usually have 500 omr leftover at the end of the month? To be honest, no, not at all. These first six months I’ve had the burden of setting up my home here in rural Oman which was much more expensive than I expected. Many months, I’ve had about 5 omr left in my bank account and I’ve been desperate for payday to come.
I actually think that it’s easy to overspend in Oman particularly because of the way the currency is. Let me explain, 1 omr is equal to 2.6 usd. So, when I go to my local cafe and spend 2 omr for lunch, it feels like I just spent $2.00 for lunch and I feel okay about it. Even when I do the math in my head and realize that I just spent $5.00 for a simple meal, handing over 2 omr actually carries very little emotional impact. Contrast this to when I lived in China, where the currency there is over 6 rmb to every 1 usd. I would go to a local American burger place for dinner in my small town and eat very well for 30 rmb which freaked me out at first until I realized it was $6. In China, I would go to the German import grocery store and spend 200 rmb and nearly have a heartattack on the way home, even though I knew I’d just spent about $30 and I would eat very well for the next two weeks with imported cheese and meats. When I spend $32 in Oman, it equals about 12 omr which gets me two light weight grocery bags at the store. Athena writes about this in her blog and I can’t agree more (the whole post is dead on accurate, fyi).
I think that the longer I live in Oman, the easier it will be to save money. I admit that the start up costs have been prohibitive to my being able to save, and let’s face it, I also have two rescue dogs and vet bills here are no joke.
I will continue to post about money matters in Oman and update you all on my progress in the coming months.