The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is generally on par with other destinations in the Middle East, though this varies greatly between cities. Mercer’s 2022 Cost of Living Survey ranked the city of Jeddah as 111th out of 227 cities, indicating the city is more affordable than several popular Middle Eastern expat destinations.

The capital, Riyadh, ranked as the 103rd most expensive city, showing its cost of living is much lower than Abu Dhabi but more expensive than Doha.

Fortunately, 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 costs 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. The most popular compounds can have long waiting lists. Living outside the compounds often proves cheaper.

Villas and apartments in Saudi Arabia range in cost depending on size, location and the amenities present. Expats working in the Kingdom may be able to negotiate a housing allowance as part of their employment contract, which would be a major saving.


Cost of education in Saudi Arabia

Schooling is another key expense for expat families, most of which will opt for private or international schools rather than local public schools. Tuition costs at these schools can be prohibitively expensive and will often exclude the cost of books, uniforms or excursion fees. Expat parents are advised to plan a budget for prospective schooling expenses.


Cost of transport in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a comprehensive public transport system. This means many expats choose to rather buy or rent a private car. Given its position in the oil sector, petrol is cheap in Saudi Arabia. Expats can also often afford to buy a more luxurious car in Saudi Arabia than they could back home. Car insurance is compulsory and is an extra expense expats should keep in mind.


Cost of goods and entertainment in Saudi Arabia

Electronic goods, groceries and tobacco products are reasonably priced, but imported food and eating out can be costly.

Entertainment options in Saudi Arabia are somewhat limited, as there are no bars or nightclubs for Western expats. Instead, money is spent in compounds or on luxury items in the country’s many malls.


Cost of living in Saudi Arabia chart 

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on the average prices in Riyadh in February 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

SAR 4,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

SAR 3,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

SAR 3,200

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

SAR 1,950

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

SAR 14

Milk (1 litre)

SAR 7

Rice (1kg)

SAR 8.29

Loaf of white bread

SAR 3.11

Chicken breasts (1kg)

SAR 30

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

SAR 27

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

SAR 200

Big Mac meal

SAR 28

Coca-Cola (330ml)

SAR 3

Cappuccino

SAR 14.68

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

SAR 0.55

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

SAR 250

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

SAR 690

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

SAR 5

City-centre public transport fare

SAR 4

Gasoline (per litre)

SAR 2.23

Expat Health Insurance

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