Lots of Saudi banknotes

Cost of Living in Saudi Arabia

 The advantages of living in a tax-free environment are many and varied. Here are some examples relating to the cost of living in Saudi Arabia for a single person, or for those who are married and wish to bring their spouse/family to the Kingdom to live during their term of employment.

The chart below cites cost of living Saudi Arabia vs that of average costs across the USA.

As can be seen, it is far cheaper to eat out at local and mid-range restaurants and those considering a teaching position in the country should feel comfortable in the fact that major towns and cities offer a good array of eateries. That being said, it may take a while for a single male to get used to the segregation in terms of gender and the fact that your table will be in the ‘bachelor’ section of the restaurant you choose to dine in.

Residing in a purpose-built compound offers far more freedom for westerners. Although the monthly cost of living in Saudi Arabia will be higher than if living with the local population this is where the majority of westerners tend to live, socialize and congregate. These compounds are often referred to in terms of holiday camps because of the facilities they offer. This includes swimming pools, fitness facilities and restaurants.

A visit to your local market or bazaar, which is known locally as a ‘souk’ provides an interesting outing where the cost of such things as bread, fruit and vegetables are, in many cases, considerably cheaper than in your home country.

Single women have more challenges to face than men due to strict Islamic laws. Understanding what is, and what is not allowed before you embark on a period of employment will go a long way to making life that much more pleasant. It is clearly understood that compound living is the preferred choice for single women due to the relaxed attitude and acceptable rules they offer.

While it is possible to rent apartments in towns and cities it has to be said that only a minority of westerners choose to live this way. Married couples and those with families will find this choice far more acceptable than single people, but the standard and quality of accommodation for those prepared to sample living amongst locals is high with rental and utility costs more favourable than in your own country.

The most popular city for living amongst the local population is the capital, Riyadh. Cost of living here is slightly higher than other cities, but amenities, activities and things to do in the Kingdom’s largest city are plentiful.

Here is a comparison of common expenses in Saudi Arabia versus in the United States (all prices shown in USD).

Restaurant
Saudi Arabia
USA
Meal in inexpensive restaurant
$5.5
$10
Combo meal at McDonald’s or smilar
$6
$6
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)
$2
$3.3
Coke (0.33 liter bottle)
$0.5
$1.3
Water (0.33 liter bottle)
$0.25
$1.3
Supermarket
Saudi Arabia
USA
Loaf of bread
$0.65
$2.2
Dozen Eggs
$1.9
$2
Chicken breasts (1kg)
$4
$4.5
Apples (1kg)
$1.85
$3.3
Pack of cigaretts (Marlboro)
$6
$6.8
Transportation
Saudi Arabia
USA
One way ticket (local transport)
$0.55
$2.5
Taxi base fee
$2.7
$3
Gasoline (1 liter)
$0.25
$0.65
Taxi per KM
$1.35
$1.6
Utilities
Saudi Arabia
USA
Electricity, heat, water, garbage
$45
$165
Internet (one month of DSL)
$51
$40
Rent / month
Saudi Arabia
USA
1 bedroom apartment in the city
$400
$900
1 bedroom apartment outside the city
$292
$700
3 bedroom apartment in the city
$705
$1,500
3 bedroom apartment outside the city
$530
$1,300