Kuwait expat exodus causing rental market chaos

Published:  8 Jul at 6 PM
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Kuwait city apartments are emptying fast due to the expat exodus.

The increasing number of expatriates leaving Kuwait is now causing the emirate’s real estate sector real pain, with signs advertising rental apartments now decorating roadsides and buildings from Fahaheel as far as the city centre. Expat wage stagnation, the soaring cost of living and the growth of anti-foreigner sentiment is driving a mass exodus of workers.

Although those leaving are mostly from the Filipino, Indian, Bangladeshi and Egyptian sectors, Western expat professionals are also voting with their feet and finding more stable jobs elsewhere. The main reason seems to be the phenomenal cost of living increases, but the ever-present threat of termination from public sector jobs due to Kuwaitization is also having a negative effect. In addition,fee increases and the feeling they’re no longer welcome are forcing many to return home, leaving the real estate rental investment sector with nowhere to turn.

Landlords are being forced to rent out their apartments as singles flats with up to 12 people in residence, thus affecting supplies of water and electricity to the annoyance of other tenants. Even so, rent reductions have peaked at over 20 per cent. In 2018, statistics revealed some 400,000 apartments in the city, with new developments coming online over the past months increasing that number still more. Rent re-negotiations are the big thing nowadays, with tenants playing the situation for all it’s worth and usually succeeding.

Others are sub-letting their flats with or without permission and moving to cheaper accommodation, causing even more strain on facility consumption. At present, deals are in order as owners would prefer to have decent families in their apartments, even at far lower rentals.
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