Those of you who follow me on social media already know that back in June we’ve moved out of Doha, and we are now living in Lusail. One month in, I’m keen to share with you my insights about how the experience has been for us so far. Was it worth it? Or maybe we’re regretting it every step of the way?
Why were we set on living in Lusail?
Lusail is a quite recently built city (some say it’s still under construction, and I kind of agree!), located approx. 15km north of Doha. It’s been widely advertised as an up-and-coming residential location on the map of Qatar. Only a couple of years ago it was only a handful of buildings in the sand, but now big parts of it are finished, or close to being finished. There are supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, a medical center, a wonderful seaside promenade, and more!
Lusail is divided into two main residential areas: Marina with its high-rise buildings located by the sea, and Fox Hills for more affordable options that don’t compromise on quality. Fox Hills is then further divided into Fox Hills North (the older part, with slightly fewer construction activities going on), and Fox Hills South (very new buildings, but in big part still unfinished). Our apartment is located in Fox Hills North.
Residents of Qatar decide to move to Lusail for all sorts of reasons, but what is it exactly that attracted our family of 5?
Value for money.
Most buildings in Lusail are less than 5 years old and come with great facilities. By adding only QAR 1,000 on top of the rent which we used to pay in Al Sadd, we got a good-sized balcony, big open plan kitchen, modern bathrooms, bedrooms overlooking a park, gym with steam room and a nice swimming pool. On top of that, the infrastructure around the buildings is mostly done, there are pavements, beautiful landscaping, and a park across the street.
Proximity to Adam’s school.
If you read my post about renting a house in Qatar (you can check it out HERE), you know how important it is for us to always live close to Adam’s school. When Adam got accepted into AWIS, we were overjoyed (it was our preferred school!), but also quite concerned, as AWIS is located in Westbay Lagoon and there’s no way we can afford to live there! Living in Lusail became a perfect solution, as it’s only about 10 minutes drive away. Now we are only hoping to find a good nursery for Danny in the same neighborhood!
Being kids friendly.
Ok, I get that if you’re reading this from outside of Qatar, it might sound weird, funny, or both! Unfortunately, proper pavements are a rarity in Doha’s central districts. In places like Al Sadd, Bin Mahmoud, Najma, or Mansoura you will find buildings erected directly at the roadside, and whatever small space is left for pedestrians is usually occupied by parked vehicles. If you’re lucky enough to find decent pavement, it will usually end at the nearest intersection. Being a mom of three, this matter was bothering me a lot. Al Sadd is not very stroller-friendly, and it’s next to impossible to have a casual walk with kids there. Lusail is a whole different story! Pavements are ready before buildings are!
I briefly mentioned before, that our flat is overlooking a park. Yup, there’s a place labeled on google maps as “Fox Hills Park” across the street and I can’t wait for the weather to get better to be able to walk there with kids. Walking places is something I used to take for granted back in Poland. Here, families move around mostly by car. Having this huge green space only a short walk away is truly priceless (not to mention that it makes for a great view from both bedroom windows!) and makes living in Lusail worth it. There’s also the better-known Crescent Park only a short drive away!
— A promenade
Even before our move, Lusail Promenade has been one of our favorite places to take the kids when the weather allows. It’s long, modern and full of things to do for children. Biking is allowed, they can also ride their scooters, and there are green lawns perfect for picnics and running around. Oh, and let’s not forget the fountains! There’s also the famous outdoor Food Court located right next to the Promenade, perfect to grab a quick bite, dessert, or a coffee. Sadly, these days because of the situation, the number of activities is limited, but I’m crossing my fingers for everything to reopen soon!
— Doha Sports Park
My last year’s amazing discovery! Doha Sports Park is a huge area in Lusail dedicated to all sorts of sports activities. There’s horse riding, golf, football pitches (which you can rent!), Strongbox gym, and more. If you’re looking for something for your kids to do around the area, Lusail Football Academy holds their sessions there during cooler months (in the summer they’re also in Lusail but inside school premises further north).
Peace & quiet (compared with Al Sadd!).
The first few nights after we started living in Lusail were weird! We both felt it, but couldn’t figure out what exactly was wrong. And then we realized it: it was SO QUIET! In central Doha, you can always hear cars honking, kids screaming, people dropping random heavy stuff (I swear they do it on purpose :D), you name it! You grow used to it and at some point stop noticing it altogether. And then you move somewhere quiet and realize how uncomfortable your life was before. Where we live now, traffic is minimal and there are almost no people going out and about. Take note though, that not all parts of Lusail are like that! Marina is, sadly, well-known for noise pollution (think: late-night bike races, people revving their v8 engines for fun, etc).
What are the drawbacks?
It’s important to highlight that living in Lusail is not all unicorns & rainbows, and comes with its own challenges. Of course, different things will be difficult to overcome for different people, but here is what we find the most troubling.
Distance from Doha.
Don’t even think of moving to Lusail if you don’t have a car. At least not yet. We had our car in a garage for 2 weeks and it was a nightmare! If you want to take Uber/Karwa from Lusail to Doha, it will cost you anywhere between QAR 20 and 40, ONE WAY. Now add to that school runs. We spent a small fortune and then finally decided to rent a car for a week (which, by the way, in the long run was cheaper than a taxi!). What about the Metro? – You might ask. Yes, the metro reaches Lusail, but there are two problems here:
— Lusail Metro Station is only accessible from Al Kheesa side, on the opposite side of Al Khor Coastal Road. This makes it a 10+min drive away from where we are staying.
— There’s no Metro Link bus service available. That’s because Lusail is supposed to be connected to the station by the Tram. The catch is: Tram is not operational yet (as of August 2021), and there’s no information about when it will start running.
This basically depends on where in Lusail you’re living. In Fox Hills North, the only construction happening around is minor roadworks, which are not too disturbing. However, residents of other areas might not be so lucky – there are still many buildings under construction. Some haven’t even been even started yet, as well as ongoing huge road projects. Plus, of course, works around Lusail Stadium, but luckily that’s away from the residential areas!
Infrastructure that’s still under development.
Even though all major roads are already open, there is still lots of ongoing roadworks around Lusail. My biggest problem with this is that roads are being temporarily closed at random times and places. You never know if you won’t be forced to take a detour and be late to wherever you’re headed.
How to look for a place to live in Lusail?
When I published a series of stories about our move on my social media accounts, many of my followers got back to me saying that they are considering living in Lusail, but find it incredibly difficult to see the available apartment options. I could feel their pain, as we’ve had our share of disappointments in that regard. Agents who didn’t answer phones, agents who ghosted us, properties snatched from the market without being advertised online, properties long-rented but still advertised as a “bait” for potential renters… The list goes on.
During our search we tried the following:
1. Scanning real estate platforms for interesting properties.
It was not very successful. Most real estate brokers share the main property portfolio. This means that (as a rule) as soon as a building opens up, every single big agency starts advertising it! They even use the same pictures. So what’s the problem with that, you might ask. The problem is that all the best apartments get snatched within the first couple of days. Despite that, agents keep on advertising using the same photos. As a result, we went to visit many apartments, only to be told that the unit from the photo is no longer available, and were offered a much less appealing alternative – a flat with a construction view, no balcony, no sunlight, etc., etc. The annoying thing is, none of the agents admitted upfront what’s the situation. They kept this information to themselves until we actually showed up at the location.
2. Hiring a freelance agent to look for us.
This had started very promisingly, but ended up in frustration! Completely by accident, I’ve stumbled upon an individual who has just quit his job at one of the agencies and used his extensive network of contacts to spot freshly vacated or brand new houses before other brokers did. He found us two great apartments, but we haven’t managed to close the deal on any of them.
The first one was a 2-bedroom ground floor unit with a huuuuge backyard which we loved! We were about to sign the contract when it turned out that the apartment’s owner changed his mind and decided not to rent it to anyone. The second one was a duplex, also with a backyard, available for a short-term rental and because of this super cheap. Unfortunately, the owner has rented the whole building to the government from November onwards and didn’t want to accept new tenants for the remaining period. After this happened, we thanked the agent for his time and told him we will continue looking by ourselves.
3. Driving around Lusail, entering buildings we liked and asking security if there are any vacant units.
The best way to look, if you have some free time! We drove around Lusail and visited buildings which we liked from the outside (translation: well maintained with big balconies :D). There, we tracked down designated security guards and asked them if there are any vacant 2 or 3-bedroom apartments that we could see. We saw A LOT of great apartments this way! The one we rented was actually discovered in a very similar way. The security guard shared a phone number of property manager and he pointed us towards an empty unit, which we loved and ended up renting. The rest is history 🙂
I hope you found the information about living in Lusail useful! If you have any questions or would like to share your experience, I’d love for you to get in touch & email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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