A day in the life
When I finally made the decision to move to Kuwait, I was bombarded with questions. Where’s Kuwait? Why? for what, with who, isn’t it dangerous, isn’t there bombs there, what about terrorist, is it hot there, isn’t it a dry country, where are you going to live…and the list goes on.
I’ve been here for almost 3 months & I’m here to tell you: Kuwait is Underrated.
First of all where in the world is Kuwait? Kuwait is an Arab country in the Middle East located in the Northeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula bordered by Saudi Arabia & Iraq. Far from home…but closer to the rest of the world. A flight to Australia is about 17 hours, Dubai is about 1.5 hours, 7 hours to Thailand and 5 hours to a few cities in Europe.
Kuwait also holds the world’s 5th largest oil reserves. It is a tax -free country…which makes it a paradise for both the avid shopper & expats looking to earn a living a broad.
Sounds amazing to me; but many of you are still confused about what the lifestyle in Kuwait is like. Allow me to share my experience living in Kuwait for the past 3 months.
Life in the Sandpit
First of all: NO I don’t live in a War Zone in a tent, and second of all I don’t ride a camel to work (although sometimes I wish I did because I love camels! Lol). There are no hurricanes (that I know of), but watch the sandstorms because Kuwait is covered in sand. The weather here is either super blazing hot, or super cold; currently it’s “winter season” in Kuwait & I love it.
Driving in Kuwait is like playing Grand Theft Auto; thank God for video games my spidey senses are up to par with the way Kuwaiti drivers drive. When I’m not dodging drivers, I’m dodging potholes, people and random objects.
Speaking of driving, petrol is dirt-cheap here, probably because Kuwait holds one of the world’s largest oil reserves; oh & also the highest valued currency in the world. 1 Kuwaiti Dinar is $3.29 and £2.27. Can someone say “ballinggg!”
Ok, realistically, Kuwait is expensive, but as in any place you learn to understand the system, you learn that 1 particular supermarket may be more expensive than the other and make the changes that best suit your needs.
Lifestyle & Costs:
To give you an idea, let me share with you’re my nail salon experiences. Getting a “full-set of acrylic or gel nails” in Miami can cost you about $30-$50 depending on the salon & service. A simple refill costs about $12-$20, depending on the maintenance. In Kuwait a re-fill/nail maintenance can cost you anywhere between 10KD-15KD ($33-$49); while a full set costs you 25KD ($82). YIKES…& that’s just nail services. Don’t let the conversion & service scare you. Spending the day at the salon is something my girlfriends & I enjoy doing. It’s part of our entertainment. We pamper ourselves, we gossip & then we grab some lunch & relax for the rest of the day.
Regarding other products or clothing items, you’ll find that your typical name brand items or imported items will cost you more, but this is where you learn how to use your money the smart way. When it comes to shopping at the grocery store you’ll usually find the imported product (from the States) & then you’ll find local import products (like from India, Thailand etc), or even home-grown in Kuwait, obviously these options will be cheaper than a product from the States.
Let’s just make one thing clear. While living here you have to master not constantly converting what you’re paying for in KD to Dollars; you’ll drive yourself crazy. As long as you’re being smart about your money, you’ll do perfectly fine. Remember you’re earning in KD, not Dollars.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, Kuwait is a dry country, which means no alcohol, drugs etc. Nightclubs don’t exist, & there are really no “naughty” temptations to go & blow your money at. (Except Dubai & Bahrain are short plane rides away, but that’s a whole different blog post lol). Combine this lifestyle with a tax-free earning, & you’re on your way to potentially saving a lot of money for your future.
The Fun Side:
If you’re used to living in a country where you can drink, go to nightclubs, etc., Kuwait may be a bit difficult to get used to, but keep an open mind because you have plenty of options to stay entertained & tons of places to eat (almost every chain restaurant AND more imaginable), you can chill in hookah lounges, or visit a friend’s home.
Since arriving in Kuwait, I’ve managed to keep myself entertained; by the way there’s few Instagram pages that market current events in the area; plus if you’re friendly enough chances are you will have local friends with fabulous beach houses who will invite you over.
I’ve spent my weekends getting together with friends and going ice skating, checked out local food truck markets, attended free music festivals, did a little shopping at local souqs & spent the day eating s’mores at a friends Chalet (beach house). I’ve also visited the mall on Fridays to sit at Starbucks & people watch…seriously it’s free entertainment.
Nights are typically quiet (lol), but they include eating at a new restaurant on the weekend, or enjoying a movie night or “gathering” at a friend’s home. I know what you’re thinking…yes I’ve been to some super exclusive parties.
There’s an underground, unspoken, invite-only, super exclusive scene. And it’s actually a lot of fun. Those types of weekends don’t happen frequently, but somewhere in Kuwait they do exists, & if you’re lucky enough to get invited…what happens there stays there.
Culture & Lifestyle:
Here is where there is a lot is misconception. Some people are even confused as to why I don’t cover, or wear tank tops etc. Newsflash, this is not Saudi Arabia this is Kuwait.
Kuwaitis follow the Islam religion & laws. When in Kuwait you’ll see the majority of women covered in traditional wear ranging from a Burqa, to a Niqaq, Abayas and Hijabs. The men typically wear their traditional Dishdasha for many occasions, but are also seen rocking in regular fashion-forward attire. These Kuwaitis mainly speak only Arabic with very little English.
You’ll also notice that there are a lot of people who don’t cover or follow 100% of the traditional Islamic culture; I think it’s fair to say they make up about 5-10% of the population in Kuwait. These are families who are more westernized, speak fluent English & Arabic (& maybe another language); & although they do follow some aspects of the Islamic / Arabic traditions, the majority are a bit more open to outside ideas & lifestyles. The women in particular dress in killer outfits, (since most don’t cover). Fashion is a big thing here, so if you got it; flaunt it. The one thing I disagree with is, the overuse of makeup. I seriously think Kuwait has the highest rate of makeup sales in the world.
Kuwaitis are typically very welcoming & helpful. The more open you are to the over-all experience of living abroad, the easier it will get. Any time I’ve been invited out, or to family gatherings I’ve felt like I am part of the family. Any time I’ve asked for help, I’m sent a dozen suggestions or advice. Feeling welcomed and being able to relate to others is what has made my experience living abroad, better than I had expected.
This is the part where it gets tricky, because I can only share with you what my personal experience of living and working abroad is like. I know a lot of you follow me on social media and are trying to figure out whether I’m on vacation or actually working (lol), so allow me to break it down.
Working abroad typically has its perks. You live rent-free & are provided with basic living arrangements (fully-furnished apartments, internet, heat, AC, etc.). You’re either provided with a driver, transport service, or car to get you to and from work. You’re provided with health insurance; they take care of all the legal visa-paperwork stuff, & typically help you with settling in. Your salary goes directly to you & your personal use, whether that’s savings or sending money back home. I’ve worked hard to get where I am & I’ve been blessed & deserving of the opportunity to be where I currently am.
I work for a company that takes care of its employees to the best of their ability. Our flats (apartments) are new & modernized, we have a Harris (building attendant), our neighbors are our co-workers & they’ve done their best to make us feel at home. We have company vehicles in which we carpool to & from work primarily & then divide our times for things like grocery runs, personal use etc. If we get sick, we find a ride to the hospital, & are later compensated for our visit. We are allowed 30 day’s pay-vacation per 1-year contract. We usually work 6 days a week with 8-hour plus or minus days, & have Fridays off. I usually get to work around 1pm, take care of any emails and paperwork, in house assignments, attend to client needs, welcome guests, etc., help management, & also attend to my job responsibilities such as PR / Client Experiences / Social Media etc. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, so when that happens we are allowed to take an hour to workout; yes I get to workout during my shift (pretty cool. I will say!).
While living abroad chances are you’ll live with flatmates. You get your own room & your own bathroom. Things can get quite interesting under these conditions; but they can also be a lot of fun. I know that I’m pretty lucky considering I live an elevator ride away from my cousin or brother or friends. It’s pretty cool because you learn to bond with people from all over the world, which opens you up to other cultures, and personalities.
Our company welcomes self-development and growth. We are encouraged to work on our career goals, our travel goals, or any other goal we may have. They understand we may not be in Kuwait for the long run, but while we are here, how can they help us growth and vise versa. Opportunities are endless within the company & if you perform at your best you will be continuously pushed for more and rewarded for your work.
As a company we also do fun events, like competitions (Battle of The East), marathon events (642 Marathon), and beach outings (when the weather permits).
One of the reasons I moved abroad was because I wanted the change & the experience. I wanted to grow more as an individual, & I wanted to expand my career opportunities. Moving abroad is a life-alternating decision. You have to leave what and who you’re comfortable with back home, and give it your all to fight through the challenges the new brings. In the beginning adjusting to the changes takes time, but the most important part is to stay open to opportunities and growth, because with time they will come.