Expat Life in Saudi Arabia 2024 – All You Need to Know

Thinking about making the move to Saudi Arabia and experiencing expat life in Saudi Arabia?

It’s a unique adventure with cultural wonders.

Ranked 28th in the Expat Insider 2023 survey, it outshines the US and others, offering a vibrant expat community and numerous opportunities.

In the Middle East, it tops the list, with Bahrain at 9th, UAE at 11th, and Oman at 12th.

Sadly, Kuwait lags at 53rd, grappling with quality of life issues.

With insights from 12,000 expats, Saudi Arabia is a top pick for a fulfilling expat experience. – Arab News

Saudi Arabia has a special way of running its government, and it affects how expats live there.

Many people from around the world move to Saudi Arabia because it’s cheaper to live there than in nearby countries.

If you’re a foreigner, you can expect a good quality of life, great work benefits, and you won’t have to pay taxes.

The low taxes are a big deal in their advanced economy, so professionals might earn more than double what they would in their home country.

But, before you decide to go, there are important things you should know.

This guide will help you understand cultural differences, cost of living and other important stuff if you’re thinking about moving to this interesting place.

Political Situation and Cultural Nuances

Political Situation and Cultural Nuances of KSA

Saudi Arabia runs on a monarchy system, where the king has a lot of power, and things are pretty strict, following Sharia Law rules.

Women have more rights now, like voting and driving, but there are still some hoops to jump through.

To fit in well, it’s important to grasp and respect the local culture, especially the impact of Islamic traditions.

This will help make your transition to life in Saudi Arabia smoother.

Also read: How to Invest in Saudi Arabia as an Expat?


Education of KSA

School days in Saudi Arabia go from Sunday to Thursday – a bit different, right?

If your kids don’t speak Arabic, you might prefer international schools, even though they can be a bit pricey and have waitlists.

They offer co-ed learning, which is neat.

Now, big news on the education scene – Saudi Arabia has revamped with over 30,000 schools, and they’re doubling the number of private ones.

In Riyadh, there are 45 international schools, and in Jeddah, there are a whopping 122!

They cover everything from kindergarten to 12th grade, and the best part?

They follow different teaching methods, like American, British, and German.

So, your expat kids can stick to what they’re used to.

Lifestyle and Cultural Integration

expat life in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia offers a unique blend of traditional and modern lifestyles. 

The official language is Arabic, but English is widely spoken, easing communication for expats. 

Compounds or gated communities provide secure accommodations with amenities like swimming pools and tennis courts, fostering close-knit expat communities.

In Riyadh, compounds for expats are Al Hamza, Al Nakhla, Arabian Homes, Miral, and Arizona – all 4-5 star rated.

They’re like mini-cities with cafes, pools, gyms, and the works.

Jumping over to Jeddah, compounds usually come fully furnished, but you can save some bucks if you go for unfurnished ones. 

Popular spots include Arabian Homes, Al Basateen Village, Sharbatly Village, and Abdullah Compound. 

Also read: Adventurous Places in Saudi Arabia 2024: Top 8 Compilation

Cost of Living in Saudi Arabia

cost of living in Saudi Arabia

Understanding the cost of living in Saudi Arabia is important, especially for those considering expat life in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh and Jeddah, the two major cities, boast a cost of living approximately 18-20% lower than Western Europe. 

Rent, significantly lower than in cities like Dubai, London, or New York, varies based on factors such as location and lifestyle.


  • Compound Living Costs:
    • Compounds in high-end areas provide well-maintained apartments and villas.
      They can be pricey, starting at around 100K SAR/year including facilities and utilities.
    • For a one-bedroom apartment in a compound, the starting price is approximately 50K SAR/year (13K USD), covering facilities and utilities.
    • A 3-bedroom villa in a compound is roughly 120K SAR/year (30K USD) compared to a similar villa in Dubai, which costs around 45K USD/year.
  • Flats Living Costs:
    • 2 bedrooms in a less lavish area is about 20K SAR/year (5K USD).
    • For the Lavish area or city center, costs range from 50-100K SAR/year (13-25K USD) depending on the quality of the flat.

You can explore properties on larger websites like Bayut, Zaahib and Property Finder.


  • Basic utilities cost around 350 SAR/month (90 USD) covering electricity, water and gas.
  • Internet costs around 250 SAR/month here, a tad more than some places, but I’m shelling out 290 SAR for a speedy fiber optic from Salam, and it’s totally worth it


  • Personal cars, taxis, buses, Uber, Careem are popular modes of transportation to travel around KSA.
  • For taxis, the basic fare is 20 SAR, and the per-kilometer price is 2 SAR.


  • It completely depends on family size.
  • The monthly food cost for one person is around 1000-2000 SAR.
  • Best grocery stores & supermarkets are Carrefour, Lulu’s, SPAR, Tamimi.

Leisure & Dining

  • Jeddah and Riyadh offer diverse dining options.
  • The typical prices include a cheeseburger meal at 25 SAR, a traditional restaurant meal ranging from 40 to 50 SAR, and cinema tickets for two at 100 SAR.

Also read: Top 10 Restaurants in Jeddah 2023 That Will Amaze You!


In Saudi Arabia, where a robust healthcare system boasts an extensive network of hospitals and clinics, Riyadh takes the lead with its healthcare facilities.

Many healthcare professionals are expats who speak fluent English. 

Medical insurance is mandatory, and covered by your employer.

However, you can choose to purchase additional coverage if needed.  

Also read: Top 5 Hospitals in Jeddah Providing Healthcare Facilities

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Saudi Arabia cheaper than Dubai?

Yes, Saudi Arabia is generally cheaper than Dubai. The cost of living is around 18-20% lower in Riyadh and Jeddah compared to the UAE, with rent being 70% less than in Dubai and significantly lower than in London and New York.

What language do people speak in Saudi Arabia?

Officially, Arabic is the primary language in Saudi Arabia, but English is widely used in business. Additionally, English is a compulsory subject in all Saudi schools.

Is the weather comfortable in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia generally has a hot climate, with most of the country being desert. In central Saudi Arabia, summer temperatures can soar as high as 43°C during the day.

What is GMT time zone of Saudi Arabia?


What is the capital city of Saudi Arabia?



Expat life in Saudi Arabia brings a mix of cultural experiences and challenges.

To make a successful transition, it’s important to understand the political, cultural, and economic landscape.

However, it’s a great choice to think about a move to Saudi Arabia.

The transformative Vision 2030 initiative is making waves and we’ve got all the details on costs, cool stuff around, and the vibe you’ll find. 

From the lively economy to tax-free living and cultural adventures, Saudi Arabia is calling for those ready to dive into something new.

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