Cost of Living in Saudi Arabia



A kingdom placing 47th based on the latest Global/Worldwide Cost of Living Survey Rankings is an affordable kingdom to live in.

Among the issues considered by expatriates who want live and work in Saudi Arabia is the cost of living and the possible savings they can make. But with this latest survey report, Saudi Arabia's livability comes ahead of other countries in Europe, Asia and some parts of the United States. 

A typical double room apartment for a family costs 330 - 400 USD and the rent is paid in advance either once or twice a year depending on the owner's preference. In the Kingdom, rent cannot increase within the duration of a contract, a rule well appreciated by expatriates. However, for luxurious rentals, rates can go as high as 900 USD a month. These facilities are usually unfurnished but are within a compound with a swimming pool and a gym.

Considering the Kingdoms' general lack of taxation and huge salary or wages offered to workers, a significant cost-lowering impact is inevitable on most commodities. Cost of imported food is naturally high but there are plenty of cheaper locally produced alternatives that are of excellent quality. 

Bread and especially gas are amongst the cheapest in the Kingdom. Utilities such as electricity and water are provided by the government; hence, rates are notably cheaper than in most European countries. Eating in a hotel is obviously more costly than eating in restaurants where an expat can get a decent meal for about $5 USD. The most common local food is the kebab or shawarma which will run you around .80 - 1 USD per serving. 

There are many ways to get around in Saudi Arabia, although the most common and developed mode is through buses which serve inter-urban and local transport needs. Modern vehicles have been recently operating, including air-conditioned double-deckers. Newly arrived expatriates will probably find it a surprise to find a screened-off section of the bus exclusively for the use of female passengers. Taxis are also available in all cities but the fare, although cheap due to low petrol prices, should be negotiated in advance. Other means of transportation are car rentals and trains which can cost a person between $16 - $32 USD. 

The Saudi state school system is excellent but is not available to expat children. However, there are several international schools that are based on American and British curricula. Fees for these schools are high and it is wise to negotiate a contract where the children's education is paid for or subsidized by the employer. Fees can exceed $8,000 a year.

Riyal is the official currency, although US Dollars can be used as well along with Australian and Canadian dollars, British pounds, the Euro and Swiss Francs. Foreign currencies and travelers' cheques in Sterling Pounds, Euro and US dollars can be exchanged at banks, bureau de change and airports, railway stations, ports and major hotels in Saudi Arabia at the official exchange rates. Credit and debit cards like American Express, Diners Club, Master Card and Visa are also widely accepted for the convenience of tourists and mainly expatriate who often find it more convenient to use cards instead of cash.

Cost of living for expatriates will obviously depend on their lifestyles. When negotiating a work contract, it's usual for an employer to produce detailed cost of living figures for the country which are useful in helping the expats decide whether the proposed job is financially attractive or not.

In general, expats have always found what they had hoped to find when they decided to live in Saudi Arabia. The rewards may not always come in gold, but the wealth of experience is enough to make each happy expat feel simply more precious.



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Cost of Living Abroad

Expat Services in Saudi Arabia