Want to living in Saudi Arabia?
Expats living in Saudi Arabia have a high standard of living, thanks to large disposable incomes that allow them to indulge in luxuries.
Many expats, particularly women, may find life in the kingdom restrictive. And some people don’t like the insular nature of a housing compound. But there are plenty of advantages that make a move to Saudi Arabia appealing – from the lucrative contracts with generous employment packages, to a good choice of international schools and private hospitals.
Accommodation in Saudi Arabia
As an expat in Saudi Arabia, you’ll probably live in a secure housing compound surrounded by other expats. Compound accommodation is in high demand, so it’s important to discuss your requirements with your employer ahead of your move.
The apartments and villas in expat compounds are usually fully furnished. With facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, libraries, shopping centres, restaurants and even schools, compound life is very self-contained, and some people rarely step outside the perimeter fence.
Rents are high in compounds, but many employers include a housing allowance in their benefits package. You may be expected to pay up to a year’s rent in advance, and you’ll also be charged for utilities such as electricity, gas and water.
Education in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, the school week is from Sunday to Thursday and hours may be shortened during Ramadan. The academic year runs from September to June and is usually divided into two or three terms.
Saudi Arabia’s public schools teach in Arabic. While expat children are allowed to attend public schools, most expat parents feel that the language and cultural differences would make for too difficult a transition.
Some international schools in Saudi Arabia have a high staff turnover and a shortage of well-qualified teachers, so expats may choose to supplement their children’s education with private tuition.
Some international schools, including the American and British schools, are governed by embassies and preference is given to their respective nationalities. Others offer multiple curricula under one roof. Waiting lists are common and fees are high. Unlike public schools, where boys and girls are segregated, international schools are usually co-educational.
Cost of living in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has a lower cost of living than many other Middle Eastern destinations. Most expats enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, especially if their employment package includes housing, transport and education allowances.
Compound accommodation is expensive and international school fees are high. Thanks to the country’s booming oil industry, petrol is cheap, so it costs very little to run a car. Local groceries are also reasonably priced but imported food and eating out are costly.
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