Most Western expats who relocate to Riyadh have their accommodation needs taken care of by their employer. As such, they will usually be housed in a Western compound in the northern or eastern suburbs of Riyadh, close to their place of work.
The decision of which neighbourhood in Riyadh to choose is therefore out of most expats' hands. Compound living tends to be a self-contained affair, as many expats rarely venture beyond their compound. Many compounds come equipped with a range of facilities such as gyms, grocery stores, laundry facilities, cafés and shops.
Here is a brief overview of the most popular areas and suburbs in Riyadh that host a large expat population.
Popular expat compounds in Riyadh
Al-Hamra Oasis Village
A premier compound fully furnished to satisfy all tastes and budgets, Al-Hamra caters to individuals and families with everything from one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom villas with private pools. Residents can pay extra for internet, housekeeping and limousine services.
Arizona Golf Resort
Known for reflecting the highest level of residential standards in Saudi Arabia, this high-walled compound caters to senior expat executives and their families. On-site amenities include a supermarket, hairdresser, library, preschool, bowling alley, games room and gym.
A Western-style compound with a focus on lifestyle, Kingdom City combines quality housing with the beauty of Saudi architecture. The compound is equipped with a bowling alley, shopping centre, healthcare clinic and swimming pools.
Expat areas in Riyadh
Al-Olaya and As Sulaymaniyah
These areas are part of Riyadh’s business district to the north of the city. For those with offices in the city centre, the manageable commute is the major advantage of living in Al-Olaya and As Sulaymaniyah, although the housing in these areas tends to be smaller and the surroundings less spacious. This type of accommodation is most suitable for young professionals who want to live close to the office and are less interested in being close to large recreational spaces. Living here also offers residents access to several shopping malls which offer an escape from compound living.
This is a prestigious and highly sought after neighbourhood in Riyadh. Properties within Al-Muhammadiyah's Western compounds are usually spacious and luxurious, and compounds here have great facilities which give residents little reason to leave. That said, the surrounding area is also home to a few exceptional top-end restaurants which are a great option for residents looking for a treat.
With lots of luxury complexes, Al-Nakheel is another popular expat neighbourhood in Riyadh, particularly among families. This is due to the presence of a fair few international schools. Most complexes in Al-Nakheel have many housing options suitable for families, with larger properties with gardens. Some compounds here even have preschools on site.
"Compounds are an ideal option for expats in my opinion. Most outside rules don’t apply (e.g. women don’t need to wear the national garb Abaya and public displays of affection is okay). I would recommend Al Wadi, Kingdom Compound, in Qurtubah."
Learn more about moving to Riyadh in our interview with Indian expat Palavi.
►Read more about the city's housing market in Accommodation in Riyadh
Are you an expat living in Riyadh?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Riyadh. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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