Muscat - Post Report Question and Answers

How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Lulu's and Carrefour have everything you'd want. If there isn't something, you can get that through DPO or pouch. We had APO at that time, which was also great. I don't eat pork so living here was not as issue, but I know that was the one thing other folks did find hard to find. - Jan 2022

Almost all groceries and household supplies can be obtained easily in Muscat, but they might be really expensive. Lots of folks complain about the cost of groceries, and, yes, if you insist on regularly eating things like strawberries, pork bacon, asparagus, and salmon, you will be spending a lot of money. If you don't buy a lot of imported groceries, you will not need to spend a lot of money. - Dec 2018

The majority of our money is spent on food. You will be blown away by how expensive things are here and our COLA just went down! I bought a basket of goods one time (basic items like chicken, asparagus, eggs, milk, apples, cookies) and had family back home price it out. They came up with $13 whereas it cost me $32 here. Oman doesn't really produce anything (potatoes, cucumber, chickens, eggs, milk are the main Omani products I buy) so it all has to be imported. And forget about eating out. A meal for 3 at Slider Station (no alcohol) can run you about $70.

The closest store that many use is Al Fair (think smaller version of Whole Foods). But it's expensive. I mostly use this for fresh products. And they have a pork room ($20 for a packet of Oscar Meyer bacon). There is also Sultan Center which is like a higher scale Walmart/Target hybrid but has tons of imported goods. They have a very sizeable organic/gluten free section as well. Most imported products are from the UK and the US. Then there are the sort of big-box/Walmart stores like LuLu and Carrefour. I usually will buy cleaning supplies and some basic items there. Other than that Amazon all day long! People also ship in from Walmart and Target.

Bottom line is you can find just about anything but you will pay dearly for it at the register. - Feb 2018

Most things you can think of are available- chicken, beef, lamb(there is even "pork rooms" in some of the grocery stores but pork is extremely expensive $20 for a pack of bacon for example, but it is available); cheese (parmesan, cheddar, feta, cottage, cream). Some American brands of food are available but can be pricey (Fritos chips; Bob's Red Mill Oats; Hershey's chocolate and chips; Brownie and Pancake mixes and maple syrup; Tex-Mex stuff like taco seasoning; tortillas, salsa etc are all available but are higher priced). There is barely any organic food, so you can scratch that off your list. There is a lot of locally grown fruits and veggies, which are very cheap but not always the greatest flavor and quality. You have to follow what is in season and buy that cheaply. There are many imported fruits and veggies, but again very pricey (e.g. sweet potatoes imported from the USA- about 4 OMR/bag= $12) Around Thanksgiving there are whole frozen turkeys available for around $6/pound) and around Christmas there is ham in the "pork room" which will easily set you back $120. If you eat the food that locals eat it can be very cheap (meats, curries, a lot of rice). Grocery stores are always well stocked. Rarely have some items disappeared off the shelves for a couple of weeks, but then were back on. - Aug 2017

Things tend to be a bit pricey. Everything is imported so that keeps prices higher. On the bright side, just about everything is available, if you search and pay the imported price. - Oct 2014

Groceries are generally more costly than Washington D.C., but local preferences can be truly affordable. Regional produce in season and fish are the budget buys. American and British products are widely available, but tend to be costly. - Jun 2012

Everything is available here, but at a cost. It would almost be better if all these western products aren't here, because then I would not be tempted to buy them at triple the cost. The same raspberries that come from Watsonville, CA that you would buy at a US grocery store are available here, but they cost $12. Peanut butter, pop tarts, US cereals, cool whip all are available here, you just pay for it. - May 2012

Expensive...COLA does not cover it. But the $1.13 a gallon for gas makes up for it. - Aug 2011

You can get just about anything you want for a price. - Feb 2011

Groceries cost a fortune! Not triple, but like 9-10 times more expensive. If you can learn to use some of the GCC products that is better. But to be honest, even that is expensive in Oman, because most isn't produced there. Get local checken. They do a great job trimming it up and it can be found in every grocery store. Most of the time you will find yourself jumping from store to store just to get the normal stuff on your list. It takes a lot of time and energy and can be tiring especially in the heat. - Apr 2010

Another big disagreement with the last poster. Not sure where they shopped at but all the stores we shopped, groceries were sometimes 5 and 10 times as expensive compared to the States. Local produce if it wasn't damaged or had gone bad could be purchased a little cheaper but not by much. For example U.S. saltine crackers 9 bucks a box, U.S. Ice Cream more than that around 12 dollars, cheeses anywhere from 5 to 8 dollars for a small slab. Cleaning products, ouch!You could get another brand maybe from the GCC area but it did not do anywhere near what a U.S. or EUR cleaning product did. So you would end up using more of it and have your house smell like a hospital while leaving a film behind. - Feb 2010

Overall, I found it a bit cheaper than in the U.S., but that's because we were willing to buy "local" products (Gulf countries, KSA, India), which are vastly cheaper than U.S. or European imports and usually equally good (many are local knock-offs of U.S. brands).Note:Pork is extremely expensive -- I spent $40 on a tenderloin for four at the only supermarket to carry it. Other than British bacon, which is surprisingly inexpensive, be prepared to go pork-less unless you really want to spend those crazy prices ($75 for a package of six pork chops?!).Alcohol is reasonable if you buy from the Muscat Embassy Association duty-free (the best way to do it).You MUST explore Omani dates; you never knew there were so many different types, and you've never tasted fresh date right off the tree. - Jan 2010

Groceries are expensive unless you buy local and in season. You can get just about anything that you need/want here; but it's not guaranteed to be in stock when you need so plan accordingly. Lulus is the biggest and cheapest hypermarket; great selection of fruits, veggies, and meats -- there is a high demand (i.e. ridiculously overcrowded during peak Omani shopping hours (4pm - midnight) and food is fresher due to large turnover of produce. Lulus caters to Omani, Indian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Philippine shopper. There are now two Carefours adding their competition to this pool. The Sultan Center will give you American goods at super inflated prices (Blue Bell Ice-Cream US$20 half/gallon; Nilla Waffers and other crackers US$9/box...) Sometimes great bargains can be found and it is excellent for finding that ingredient that you can't get anywhere else. AlFair stores are throughout Muscat and are the most expensive, but will cater to a more European tastes: spectacular fresh baked breads, yogurts... - Mar 2009

Expensive and getting more so. While one can find anything, inflation and a weak dollar (to which the Omani Rial is pegged) means that a basic weekly shopping for a couple rarely comes in under US$100, especially if you rely on U.S./European brands and imported as opposed to local (not generally as nice-looking and more limited in selection) fruit and veg. Most everything is available - except for alcohol-based staples such as vanilla, wine vinegar, and the like. Alcohol is available to Embassy personnel and to non-Muslim expats whose employers will secure for them the necessary individual liquor license. It is expensive, and selection, especially of wine, can be limited. - Feb 2008

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