- Download our Moving to Saudi Arabia Guide (PDF)
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 2023 Cost of Living Survey ranked the city of Jeddah as 101st out of 227 cities, indicating the city is more affordable than several popular Middle Eastern expat destinations.
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 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 typically 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 relatively 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 education in Saudi Arabia
Schooling is another key expense for expat families, most of whom 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 healthcare in Saudi Arabia
Healthcare in Saudi Arabia is transitioning towards a more privatised model, which can influence costs for non-nationals and those not covered by government healthcare.
For expats, the mandatory health insurance programme ensures access to a range of services at private healthcare facilities. Premiums vary based on the level of coverage chosen, with more comprehensive plans offering broader services and higher costs. While basic health insurance is compulsory, many opt for additional coverage to include services such as dental and optical care.
The cost of healthcare without insurance can be high, especially for specialised treatments and private hospital care. Medications, particularly imported ones, can also be costly. However, the government's efforts to increase private sector participation aim to improve efficiency and service quality, potentially leading to more competitive pricing in the future. Expats are advised to thoroughly research and select a health insurance plan that balances cost with coverage needs, ensuring access to preferred hospitals and clinics.
Cost of living in Saudi Arabia chart
Note that prices may vary depending on the location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices in Riyadh in February 2024.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
►For more on managing your finances, see Banking, Money and Taxes in Saudi Arabia
"Living in Saudi Arabia gives you the opportunity to save, pay off debt and live comfortably. Companies that employ expats typically pay for their accommodation and utilities. Hence, a lot can be saved with limited expenses." Read more of James's expat interview.
"Our housing and all utilities are paid for by my husband’s employer here, so that saves us a lot of money. Groceries are relatively inexpensive although some can be really pricey. Imported goods, such as berries, are hard to find and can be expensive. Gas is really cheap." Brenda shares more of her experiences in her expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Saudi Arabia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Saudi Arabia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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