Cost of Living in Saudi Arabia
The cost of living in Saudi Arabia currently places the country in line with middle cost of living locations and, comparatively speaking, Saudi Arabian cities generally rank lower than most Middle Eastern cities in terms of international cost of living surveys.
Many highly skilled expats move to Saudi Arabia on lucrative relocation packages, which usually include subsidies for housing, transport, medical insurance, return tickets home for vacation and allowances for education for their children. Those granted these benefits will find that the cost of living in Saudi Arabia can be quite reasonable and they can enjoy a rather luxurious lifestyle when all these expenses are already taken care of.
Cost of accommodation in Saudi Arabia
Expat housing in Saudi Arabia is expensive; the high demand for compound living has seen the prices steadily increase in recent years, and expats will often find a long waiting list for accommodation at the most popular compounds.
Depending on the standard of living one aspires to, accommodation in a Saudi compound can range from around SAR 90,000 to 250,000 per year. It’s therefore important that accommodation is factored into any contract when negotiating a package for relocation to Saudi Arabia.
Cost of education in Saudi Arabia
For expats with children in Saudi Arabia, another big expense will be schooling. Foreign children are not allowed to attend public schools in Saudi Arabia and therefore have to attend international schools. Tuition at some of these institutions can cost in the region of SAR 35,000 to 75,000 a year.
Cost of transport in Saudi Arabia
As a country bound to the oil sector, petrol is cheap. Thus, expats often find that when buying a car in Saudi Arabia many can afford more luxurious vehicles than in their home country.
Cost of food and household goods in Saudi Arabia
Ironically enough, tobacco products are relatively moderately priced. Groceries are also reasonably priced, but dining out can be costly and imported food items can also be expensive.
Electronic goods are generally cheaper due to lower import duties and general lack of taxation.
Money can be easily spent at the country’s many malls or on luxury items; however, bear in mind that entertainment options are limited in Saudi Arabia and there are no bars, movie theatres, night clubs, or other social places that many Western expats may be used to.
Cost of living in Saudi Arabia chart (Prices for Riyadh, 2014)
(Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider and the table below is based on average prices)
|Furnished two bedroom house||SAR 3,400|
|Unfurnished two bedroom house||SAR 2,100|
|Furnished two bedroom apartment||SAR 4,200|
|Unfurnished two bedroom apartment||SAR 2,200|
|Milk (1 litre)||SAR 4|
|Loaf of white bread||SAR 3|
|Rice (1kg)||SAR 6|
|Pack of chicken breasts (500g)||SAR 11|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||SAR 10|
Big Mac meal
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||SAR 150|
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
Usually free on compound
|Electricity (highly variable)||SAR 50-100/month on compound|
|Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month)||SAR 240|
|City centre bus fare||SAR 2|
|Petrol (per litre)||SAR 0.48|