Buying (and living in) in Oman, what are the opinions

We may have an opportunity to live in Oman for about 3 years, I’m thinking it may be worth our while to buy there.
Prices aren’t miniscule but seem about 30% lower than here.

Other than that I’m interested in what experiences anyone has of working in Muscat? We don’t have an “off topic” forum yet… so I had to disguise this question under home ownership :wink:

Thanks for any opinions

can’t help you with Oman, but on the issue of buying when you move away temporarily.

We looked very very seriously at buyign in Florida when we moved there. We knew it would be temporary, but figure we’d be living there anyway for a while, and afterwards, it’s not a bad spot to go back to and visit etc.

Unfortunately we moved their as the market was peaking. As ridiculously cheap as properties looked compared to Ireland, it was pretty clear things were going to get bad. So we put off making any offers.

We looked around again when the market had started turning, even made some offers, but sellers were still clinging on to unrealistic ideas that everything would be all right.

One place had been on the market for months when we looked in Jan '07. The seller wanted $220,000. It’s still on the market today asking $125,000. That’s how bad it’s gotten over there.

My only advise would be, make your buy/rent decision based on local factors, not on comparisons with Ireland.

How much will it cost to maintain this place annually after you move back. 3 years is a very short horizon to be thinking of selling up, especially at the moment.

Read up on Tax laws, etc.

If I was moving to Florida for a few years today, I’d probably buy something. But at the time I did move it just didn’t make sense, as subsequent events prove.

Be careful.

-Rd

I wouldn’t buy in a country where
a) I don’t speak the language
b) I can’t point it out on a map with no country names.

Hi,

I lived in Dubai for much of the last 6 years and travelled a lot in Oman. Its an incredible country, which has a history, intact culture, beautiful scenary from reefs to mountains to deserts. Nice peoples, but thats because they have limited oil / gas and have to work for a living!!!

From the point of moving there and buying, there are a few issues:

  • All gulf based property development schemes have a lot of money chasing limited supply, particularly Dubai, and soon Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar etc. Oman (Muskat) is a bit more cut off so not the same inflation.
  • Muscat is less of a mecca (sic) for European/ US business HQs, so not the same rental demand, but still enough. Dubai example would be $60,000 dollars rent PA for a 3-4 bed Villa.
  • Rent versus purchase arguement / maths needs current information.
  • Issue of outright ownership or / 99 year lease (as elsewhere) is an issue. Do you hold onto residency through purchase after your work contract is finished. ? Right of return to live ?

Finally, lucky sod. I intend to retire there is a few years time. !!

Noddy.

RD,
Good advice there for potential buyers in Florida,but I’m after specific information which I have been unable to find on the net.Would be interested to know if you have knowledge or can advise on the following:

Local taxes-are they a fixed percentage of the value of the property at its last sale price?I have seen examples and around 2% seems the norm? If not, how are they calculated?

Given the propensity for hurricanes,how much is insurance cover for houses?Does it completely cover total loss in the event of a hurricane or storm damage?I can’t see how insurance companies can afford to insure states like Florida unless the premiums are astronomical.All info appreciated.

Prof.

Dont forget about electricity costs. In Florida, you’ll have your air-condtioning going from May to October, your electicity bill will be very large during this time. Around USD $300/ month.

I heard its worse in Dubai, where temperatures are 40 degrees in summer, your electricity bill is EURO €300/ month.

On the other hand, you wont have any heating oil bill as winters are not cold.

Prof.

Try the following

dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/

Thanks for the replies guys, I guess I have some diggin to do. I dunno the answer to those property rights and citizenship questions… I guess they are important :wink:

The rental market looks strong from talking to someone based there now.
There’s also the fact that if it ever kicked off with Iran, or even some problems in straits of hormuz prices would tumble overnight.

Thanks for the replies,but the Florida state website gives a hugely complex formula for how they arrive at a valuation of your property but not how they levy taxes based on that valuation.

If there is anyone with a property in Florida who can advise on how individual property taxes are calculated please post and how much insurance costs please advise.

Cheers
Prof.

Property taxes are based on multiples of millage which is 0.1% of the taxable value. A list of the millage multipliers per county are on the website.

See pg 164/266 of the following link
dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/07FLpropdata.pdf

Yep, A/C is a must. But… It’s still substantially cheaper than electricity/heating in Ireland. I have the bills to prove it.

The property tax thing is difficult. It’s made more difficult by the fact that a resident will pay less tax than someone who owns a holiday home there. (only fair I suppose).

The rules means a large portion of the value of your house is Tax free, and beyond that, as long as you stay living in your house, the increases in tax are capped.

This of course leads to elderly people living in homes paying very little tax, but if they moved they’d be hit with up to date taxes.

The websites of the property appraisers for the various counties in Florida will actually give you details for any given address of the value at which it’s taxed, and the tax charged.

E.g. Pinellas County. pcpao.org/

You can google the appraisers for any county you’re interested in.

To anyone looking at this and wondering why Ireland can’t even publish the price a house sells for. It’s because The US is way in the future, with advanced technology like Databases and Computers. When Ireland makes it through World War Two, this kind of technology will be available here too.

Oh! and the 50’s are going to Rock!!!

-Rd

Thanks RD.

Prof.

Hi Professori - some experience of Florida to share as we lived & bought & sold there…

If you’re thinking of investing I’d advise extreme caution - I can’t remember the tax cost exactly, but it’s fairly hefty, and togther with the A/C costs, pool maintenence (if you have one - lots of homes do) and lawn cutting (once or twice a week - usually required by the Home Owners Association) the monthly running costs mount up significantly. We found it was OK while we were living there (Florida does have the benefit of no state income tax) . Once we moved away we planned to rent the house - bad idea! It was extremely difficult to get rentals as there is huge supply (I’m talking about the Orlando/Disney area). When you do get a booking it is at a knock-down price, or with an agent taking a huge slice. And then there’s the hassle of it - complaints about minor issues, deposits to take and refund etc, taxes to file with the local authorities. We tried it for a few months and got cheesed off. Then seeing that property values were dropping like a stone, we sold up and got out. (phew, that was last May, next door neighbour’s house currently on sale for $100K less).

Hurricane cover was not such a huge issue, but the cost of insurance does vary depending on how much excess you accept. Hurricanes are much more of a problem on the coasts, particularly the Florida Keys. Another thing to watch out for is flood plains (Florida is mainly built on reclaimed swamp) - We got letters saying our home was on a flood plane… spent months proving to the insurance company that it had been re-zoned.

So think carefully before you go there - it’s not for the faint-hearted (although a lovely place to spend the winter!)

One further thought on Florida - don’t forget the size of realtor fees when selling - approx 6% (3% to the buyer’s realtor, 3% to the seller’s) - very hefty, although the legal fees are a lot less than in Ireland (through title insurance etc). People planning to ‘flip’ a property often forget this selling cost.

I have been there a few times and a family member lived there for 5 years. I cannot comment on the property market but here is what I learned.

Oman is a relatively benign monarchy. The economy seems to be run by a bunch of outsiders. There is a policy of Omanisation of many public sector jobs - i.e., let a westerner in to set-up and run a department but then replace them with at least 1/2 relations of your local boss. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, but job security is not a given.

Oman is trying to present itself as a less developed version of Dubai to tourists. It has some very good hotels but the centre of Muskat is fairly bland, though they do have a genuine souk.

The country is very beautiful and there is lots to see and do. I much preferred it to Dubai which is quite overdeveloped IMHO.

It is poorer than its neighbours (and this is very noticeable when you travel away from the major towns & cities).

It seemed to be a reasonably relaxed place where foreigners were quite welcome though you can only drink alcohol in certain hotels and women were advised to dress modestly when out and about.