Cost of Living in Saudi Arabia
The 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.
Expat housing in Saudi Arabia is expensive; the high demand for compound living has seen the prices steadily increase in recent years. 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 to ensure that you factor this into your contract when negotiating a package for relocation to Saudi Arabia.
For expats with children in Saudi Arabia, another big expense will be schooling. Foreign kids are not allowed to attend state schools in Saudi Arabia and therefore have to attend international schools, with tuition at some of these institutions costing upwards of 50,000 SAR a year.
As a country bound to the oil sector petrol is cheap, and thus expats often find that when buying a car in Saudi Arabia many can afford more luxurious vehicles than in their home country. Electronic goods are also generally cheaper due to lower import duties and general lack of taxation.
Ironically enough, tobacco products are relatively moderately priced. Groceries are also reasonably priced, but dining out can be costly. Imported food items can also be expensive.
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, 2012)
|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|
|White bread||SAR 3|
|White sugar||SAR 4.5/kg|
|Coca Cola||SAR 5/2.5 litre|
|Still mineral water||SAR 10/1.5 litre|
|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|
|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|
|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|