Cost of Living in Saudi Arabia

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Cost of Living in Saudi ArabiaThe cost of living in Saudi Arabia currently places the country in line with middle cost living locations, and comparatively speaking, Saudi Arabian cities generally rank lower than most Middle Eastern cities in terms of international cost of living surveys. As an example, according to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2012, Riyadh ranked as the 123rd most expensive city, and Jeddah came in at 186th out of just over 200 cities surveyed. 
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 90,000 to 250,000 SAR 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 35,000 to 75,000 SAR 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 Jeddah, 2013)

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)
Furnished 2 bedroom house SAR 3,400
Unfurnished 2 bedroom house SAR 2,100
Furnished 2 bedroom apartment SAR 4,200
Unfurnished 2 bedroom apartment SAR 2,200
Room in shared apartment SAR 1,100
Food and drink
Milk SAR 4/litre
Cheese SAR 20/200g
White bread SAR 3
Rice   SAR 66/10kg
White sugar  SAR 4.5/kg
Coca Cola SAR 5/2.5 litre
Still mineral water    SAR 10/1.5 litre
Tomatoes SAR 24/kg
Apples SAR 6.5/kg
Fresh beef filet SAR 160/kg
Olive oil SAR 15/500ml
Fresh white fish SAR 35/kg
Milk chocolate bar SAR 4.50/100g
Table salt SAR 1.95/750g
Deodorant SAR 11
Soap SAR 5
Toothpaste SAR 10/120ml
Shampoo SAR 10/200ml
Purchase of low cost cell phone SAR 150
Purchase of Blackberry cell phone SAR 682 (8590)
Three minute call (cell phone) SAR <1
Cable television Free on compound
Electricity (highly variable) SAR 50-100/month on compound
Water (highly variable) SAR 40-80/month on compound
Petrol per gallon SAR 0.6/litre
Eating out
Three-course dinner in restaurant    SAR 150
Fast-food meal    SAR 20
Cup of coffee in cafe    SAR 15 (Starbucks)
Spirits (1 tot) Not available for purchase in Saudi Arabia
Bottle of wine Not available for purchase in Saudi Arabia
Bottle of beer SAR 1.5 (non-alcoholic)
Marlborough lights cigarettes SAR 3
Cinema ticket Not applicable
Entrance to beach SAR 75
Services - health and beauty
Gym membership Free on compound
Average male haircut (Western salon)  SAR 50
Average female haircut (Western salon)  SAR 200
Manicure SAR 50
Pedicure SAR 50

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