Accommodation in Jeddah

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Expats searching for accommodation in Jeddah are often embroiled in a house-hunting process that’s very different from other destinations.
Expat compounds in Saudi Arabia

Many of the Islamic rules in Saudi Arabia make it challenging for non-Muslims to move freely in society. And since Arabic is the language of business and law, renting a villa or apartment in Jeddah can turn into a nightmare those who don’t speak it.

Compounds designed for expat living were developed in response. Some consist of a few houses and others are like villages with numerous villas, apartments and shared amenities. There tends to be more freedom in the compounds. Women don’t need to cover up and expats at larger compounds can socialise at facilities like shops, sports grounds, swimming pools, parks, restaurants and daycare centres.  

Staying at some of the more exclusive ones can even be likened to living in a holiday complex.

Types of accommodation in Jeddah

Compound housing in Jeddah tends to be fully furnished, but it is possible to find unfurnished accommodation at around 10 percent cheaper. For a bit extra, expats who prefer to travel light can also arrange a 'soft package' which includes bedding, towels, cutlery and crockery. Otherwise, numerous shops sell good quality household items and some outlets stock Western-styled furniture.

Ultimately, expats could ship all their furniture to create a home away from home, or move nothing and live with what the compounds provide. Expats who are hired to work in Jeddah on lucrative employment packages will usually find that their accommodation needs are well-taken care of and they are either provided with fully-furnished housing or are giving a sizeable shipping allowance to help them bring their personal goods to Saudi Arabia. 

Finding accommodation in Jeddah

Demand for compound housing in Jeddah considerably outstrips supply, so finding the right home can take some time. When choosing a compound, expats should think about the location and general lifestyle, rather than just the house itself – a fantastic property is greatly diminished in the wrong location. It’s easier to change houses within a compound once expats have moved in, than it is to move from one compound to another.

Demographics change over time, but different nationalities tend to favour specific compounds. In choosing one, expats will need to decide whether to live with people from their own country, or if they’d rather mix with other nationalities. Information about compounds in Jeddah is available online through individual property websites and listings. But many companies don’t update their sites regularly, and expats shouldn’t be surprised to find outdated images and information. Most people get advice from work colleagues and other expats once they arrive in Saudi Arabia.

Get any changes to the property done when negotiating the contract. Most properties are painted when tenants move out, but fixtures and fittings can be worse for wear, and it’s best to get any changes made at the start of the contract.

Luckily, the majority of expats moving to Jeddah have the hassle of finding a suitable compound taken away from them as the employer usually arranges expat accommodation prior to their employees moving to Saudi Arabia. In all likelihood, expats are housed in close proximity to colleagues and other foreigners which makes the transition into expat life in Jeddah much smoother. 

Cost of compound housing in Jeddah

The cost of accommodation in Jeddah can be high because of the high demand and limited supply. Housing allowances are a fairly standard part of Saudi employment contracts and include a specific amount, a percentage of the employee’s salary, or in the case of larger employers, even the provision of a property.

Rental agreements are often between the employer and the compound. Both are local entities and contracts tend to be on a rolling annual basis with rent paid at the start of each year. Deposits are usually around 10 percent of the annual rent. Electricity, water and Internet normally cost extra; service charges are usually included; and the compound is responsible for maintaining the property.

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