Cost of Living in Saudi Arabia

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market vendor in saudi arabiaThe cost of living in Saudi Arabia is generally lower or on par with other expat-friendly destinations in the Middle East. In fact, Jeddah ranked 121st out 209 countries listed on the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2016. Riyadh was 57th, however, which is closer to the regional average.

Many expats move to the Kingdom on lucrative relocation packages with allowances for housing, transport, medical insurance and their children's education.

Expats who have these expenses covered by their employers usually find living expenses in Saudi Arabia to be reasonable and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

Cost of accommodation in Saudi Arabia

Expat housing in Saudi Arabia is expensive. High demand for property in expat compounds has resulted in high prices, and the most popular compounds can have long waiting lists. Living outside the compounds is cheaper, but some find it to be a more isolating experience. Costs will depend on the standard of living expats aspire to, and can range from 20,000 SAR for a small apartment to more than 300,000 SAR for a compound villa. 

Cost of education in Saudi Arabia

Schooling is another big expense. Foreign children aren't allowed to attend public schools in Saudi Arabia, so they have to attend international schools where tuition can cost 75,000 SAR in the senior year.

Cost of transport in Saudi Arabia

Given its position in the oil sector, petrol is cheap in the Kingdom, and expats can often afford a more luxurious car in Saudi Arabia than they could back home. 

Cost of household goods and food in Saudi Arabia

Electronic goods, groceries and (perhaps ironically) tobacco products are reasonably priced, but imported food and eating out can be costly.
Entertainment options in Saudi Arabia are limited. There are no bars, movie theatres or nightclubs for Western expats, but money is easily spent on luxury items in the country’s many malls.

Cost of living in Saudi Arabia chart (Based on Riyadh, 2016)

(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 4,250
Unfurnished two-bedroom house SAR 2,600
Furnished two-bedroom apartment SAR 3,500
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment SAR 2,250
Milk (1 litre) SAR 4.50
Dozen eggs 
SAR 10
Loaf of white bread SAR 3
Rice (1kg) SAR 7.50
Pack of chicken breasts (1kg) SAR 19.50
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) SAR 24
Eating out
Big Mac meal or equivalent
SAR 22
Cappuccino SAR 12
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant  SAR 80
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) 
SAR 0.50
Internet (uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month)  SAR 240
Electricity (average per month for standard household) SAR 100
City centre bus fare SAR 2
Taxi (rate per km) SAR 2.50
Petrol (per litre)  SAR 1

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