We take a peek around town to find out where you love to live, or would like to try out, on our little island
Time Out Bahrain staff
1 A’ali What’s the area like? It’s an older, quite local area, but some expats like the freestanding villas for their low prices. Amenities The pottery workshops are a great place to buy decorations for your home or gifts for friends, as well as a place to take visitors. The burial mounds are another cultural site. There are some cold stores and small restaurants.
Best for… Families who are happy to live in freestanding villas, as there are no compounds.
Pros: Easy access to the highway toward Manama and Saudi, as well as low rents.
Cons: If you want to eat out, go shopping or pretty much anything else, you need to drive quite far.
Prices: BD900-2,500 monthly rent for a villa, or BD200,000+ purchase price.
Taste of Bahrain
2 Adliya (including Um Al Hassam, Mahooz & Zinj) What’s the area like? Most buildings are older, so you get better value for money. This is Bahrain’s restaurant area, so it’s busy. There are a few green spaces and parks, and depending where in the area you are, this can be a very pleasant place to live.
Amenities: Some of the country’s best restaurants, a few bars, supermarkets, healthcare facilities and schools. It is close to Manama and Juffair, but getting around can be slow due to traffic.
Best for… Eating out and value for money living.
Pros: Easy access to fine dining and all daily requirements; relatively low-cost.
Cons: Traffic is heavy and it’s cramped in certain areas, and buildings tend to be older.
Prices: About BD650+ monthly rent for a two-bedroom flat, and BD700-1,500 per month for a villa.
3 Isa Town What’s the area like? It’s busy and bustling. There are few western expats here; it’s mostly locals and some non-western expats.
Amenities: If you fancy some French culture, Alliance Francaise is located here. In the education department, you’ve got the University of Bahrain and the Indian School. For shopping, there’s the Jawad Centre, a Friday market and the Manazil home and garden store. Cafés and fast food restaurants are available.
Best for… Non-western expat and local families looking for freestanding villas.
Pros: Many amenities and low prices.
Cons: Heavy traffic.
Prices: About BD300+ monthly rent for a two-bedroom flat and BD500+ monthly rent for villas.
Keeping it local
4 Hamad Town What’s the area like? Very local. It was set up in 1984 as a place where the government provided council housing to those who could not afford increasing property prices elsewhere in the country. In 2001, the government gave the council houses to the residents free of charge.
Amenities: There’s a market as well as some restaurants and cold stores.
Best for… Locals who are looking for villas (there are no flats).
Pros: Low cost.
Cons: Lots of traffic, few amenities.
Prices: BD135,000+ purchase price for villas.
5 Juffair What’s the area like? Busy, busy, busy. Juffair has shot up with such lightning speed that it’s hard to believe most of its reclaimed land didn’t exist 15 years ago. It’s packed with restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as supermarkets and the US Naval Base. Look out if there’s an empty plot next to the building you’re considering living in – construction noise and dirt next door could make your life miserable.
Amenities: Cafés, bars, clubs and restaurants aplenty. There are a couple of supermarkets, the Bahrain Specialist Hospital, as well as access to the Al Fateh Corniche.
Best for… Young people who like to go out.
Pros: You can find everything to satisfy your daily needs and prices are competitive.
Cons: Traffic is heavy and the place is cramped.
Prices: About BD550-800 monthly rent or BD65,000+ (unfinished)/BD90,000+ (finished) purchase price for a two-bedroom flat. Villas run from BD1,000-2,500 monthly rent.
The centre of it all
6 Manama What’s the area like? In the island’s capital, the buildings are mostly old and poor quality, so western expats tend to stay away. However, some expats from other parts of the world and locals are attracted by the low prices.
Amenities: The souk, restaurants and cafés, Moda Mall and the Sheraton Complex, as well as fine dining outlets in the hotels, such as the Golden Tulip and the Gulf Hotel Bahrain.
Best for… People on a low budget who can handle the chaos.
Pros: Close to the kingdom’s financial area, plus lots of restaurants and shops to choose from.
Cons: Heavy traffic, and the buildings are mostly poor quality and offer few facilities.
Prices: Can be very low, but it’s not easy to find real estate agents who deal with this area.
On the fly
7 Muharraq What’s the area like? Muharraq used to be the capital, it’s older, and the small lanes in its interior make it quite congested. Most expats live in Hidd or Busaiteen where rent is low, but buildings have few facilities. Amenities The airport is located here. There’s also the souk, cold stores, the French School and fast food restaurants, as well as some fine dining at the Mövenpick Hotel.
Best for… People who work at the airport and can’t afford to live in Amwaj.
Pros: Prices are low and there are several recently refurbished corniches where you can take walks. Three bridges provide access to Manama.
Cons: You have to get over to Manama to do most things, and noise from the airport can be a problem in some areas. Traffic can be heavy.
Prices: BD450-700 monthly rent for a two-bedroom villa and BD200,000+ purchase price for a villa.
A royal touch
8 Riffa What’s the area like? As in Hamad Town, it’s mostly locals who live here, although there are a few compounds. The most significant landmark is the Royal Court as well as the Sheikh Salman Bin Ahmed Al Fateh Fort (often just called Riffa Fort).
Amenities: There are plenty of small shops, cold stores, a Lulu Hypermarket and restaurants, as well as hospitals.
Best for… Local and GCC families.
Pros: It’s very affordable.
Cons: Traffic can be heavy.
Prices: About BD200-400 monthly for a two-bedroom flat and BD700+ monthly for villas. Purchase price for villas BD225,000+.
9 Saar (including Budaiya, Janabiya, Jassra and the villages) What’s the area like? This area will appeal to those looking for something beyond sand and concrete. Saar is mostly made up of older but well maintained as well new compounds. This is a family place, and although it’s considered to be ‘out of town’, Manama can be easily reached via the highway. The Saudi Causeway is just around the corner.
Amenities: Shopping includes Al Osra and Al Jazira supermarkets, as well as Country Mall and the Jawad Dome. There are several schools, including St Christopher’s and the British School, plus the International Hospital. For leisure, there is Saar Cinema, the corniches in Barbar, Diraz and Budaiya, as well as Sheikh Mohammed Gardens with its camel farm. The Al Jassra House and Handicraft Centre, Barbar Temple and Saar Archaeological site provide a bit of culture. Best for… Children’s schools and family life.
Pros: Easy access to restaurants, supermarkets, Seef, Manama and the Saudi Causeway. There is lots of greenery, as well as beaches and corniches, although they have been suffering badly from Bahrain’s building boom.
Cons: Traffic can be heavy on Budaiya Highway and other main roads in the area.
Prices: Generally can also be quite high.
Prices: Depending on the type of compound, rent varies greatly, from about BD750-5,000 per month. Only GCC citizens can buy property in this area, however, with prices ranging from BD150,000-400,000 for a villa.
Shop ’til you drop
10 Seef What’s the area like? Modern. Luxury apartments and commercial buildings are mingling with malls. Although there are several access points to the main highway into Manama and towards Saudi Arabia, infrastructure can be sketchy in some areas where buildings have mushroomed but roadwork hasn’t caught up.
Amenities: The malls (Seef, Dana, A’ali Complex and City Centre) provide not only highstreet wares but hypermarkets Lulu, Géant and Carrefour as well as numerous cinemas, restaurants and cafés. For fine dining there are outlets in Seef’s hotels (such as the Ritz-Carlton and L’Hotel). Some dental and healthcare facilities as well as the Bahrain Fort with its museum are also located here.
Best for… In a word, shopping. Probably better suited to young professionals than families.
Pros: The traffic is comparatively light because of the easy access to the highway, so you can get out and to other areas of Bahrain quickly. All daily requirements are available.
Cons: Prices are high in this area, whether you buy or rent. Also, it’s almost impossible to walk around Seef, and there are no parks or outdoor areas.
Prices: About BD700-900 monthly rent or BD80,000-100,000+ purchase price for a two-bedroom flat.
My life in… Juffair
Ben Millington is a journalist. He lives in a three-bedroom flat with two housemates. He has been staying here for eight months.
I like about living here… that I have easy access to shops and restaurants, as well as the American Alley [a road with lots of cafés and restaurants near the American base]. The facilities in my apartment block are excellent, it’s almost like living in a hotel.
I don’t like about living here… that the cost of rent is quite high and the traffic from Seef, where I work, is heavy. Construction noise can also be a bother.
In the area I can… go to the supermarket, which is just down the street. I can also eat out, go to the pub and use the excellent gym at my building.
I need to go elsewhere… to watch a movie, go to the market or souk, malls and my work.
I would recommend this place to… any kind of expat who is new to Bahrain or staying short-term. The fact that the apartments are furnished is very practical, and it’s easy to make friends in your apartment building. In essence, you’re in the area where all the action is.
My life in… Manama
Cheryl Rodrigues is a housewife. She lives in a one-bedroom flat on Exhibition Road with her husband and their cat. They have been staying here for a year.
I like about living here… that it’s a bustling place. I used to live in Mumbai, so I like a busy environment.
I don’t like about living here… that the traffic is crazy, particularly on weekends, and there seem to be no rules or respect for the fact that it’s also a residential area.
In the area, I can… walk over to Al Fateh Corniche on the waterfront, stroll, eat out at small restaurants and buy groceries.
I need to go elsewhere… to watch a film at the cinema, enjoy fine dining and browse the mall.
I would recommend this place to… young singles or couples without children.
My life in… Saar
Katja Smith is a housewife. She lives in a five-bedroom villa at a compound with her husband and their daughter. They have been staying here for three years.
I like about living here… that everything is close by – highway access to Manama, supermarkets, healthcare facilities, schools and everything else I need. I don’t like about living here… that traffic is quite busy at peak times on certain roads.
In the area, I can… go shopping, take my daughter to swimming, go to the cinema, have a coffee and more.
I need to go elsewhere… for major malls and parks. I would recommend this place to… families.