The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is generally lower or on par with other destinations in the Middle East. Riyadh ranked 35th in Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey. It's more affordable than the popular expat cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, it ranked as more expensive than other regional cities like Manama and Doha.

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 is cheaper. Villas and apartments in Saudi Arabia range in cost depending on size, location and the amenities present.

Cost of education in Saudi Arabia

Schooling is another big expense. Foreign children don't have access to public schools in Saudi Arabia. They therefore have to attend international schools where tuition can be prohibitively expensive. These tuition fees often also do not include the cost of books, uniforms, or excursion fees. This makes schooling a major expense to consider.

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 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 household goods and food in Saudi Arabia

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

Entertainment options in Saudi Arabia are limited. There are no bars or nightclubs for Western expats. Money is easily spent 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 January 2020.

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SAR 2,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

SAR 2,900

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SAR 1,100

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

SAR 1,700


Milk (1 litre)

SAR 4.90

Dozen eggs 

SAR 7.80

Loaf of white bread

SAR 2.80

Rice (1kg)


Chicken breasts (1kg)

SAR 20

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

SAR 25

Eating out

Big Mac Meal or equivalent

SAR 23


SAR 13.60

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

SAR 100


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) 

SAR 0.50

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

SAR 250

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

SAR 320


City centre bus fare


Taxi (rate per km)

SAR 2.50

Petrol (per litre) 

SAR 1.50

Expat Health Insurance


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