Cost of living

How much does living in Saudi Arabia cost?

The overall cost of living in Saudi Arabia is similar to most European countries as an expat. There are some significant differences since the general lack of tax makes a big difference on the cost of certain items such as cars. The cost of accommodation tends to be more expensive than in Europe.

Food and groceries

Some foods, especially imported foods are more expensive in the Kingdom. If you buy internationally recognized brands, you might pay more than in your home country. There are usually plenty of cheap locally and regionally produced alternatives that are of excellent quality.

As Saudi Arabia is a Muslim state, alcohol is completely banned and there are no places where you can legally buy or consume it. However, there exists an underground market for wine and liquors, especially among expats. The alcohol you can find tends to be home-brewed and prices and quality can vary greatly. Note that, as it is illegal, if you are found in possession of alcohol, you can be fined and jailed.

Electronic goods, such as televisions, DVD players, cameras and software are generally cheaper than in Europe, mainly because of lower import duties. Clothing can be expensive if you favour designer labels. This is standard in Saudi Arabia, although there’s little need for winter clothing.

Utilities

Utilities, such as electricity, water and gas, are subsidized to some extent by the regional governments. These governments own the services (except for bottled gas supplies) in order to provide inexpensive electricity and water to support the local population. Utilities are therefore cheaper than in most European countries.

At the height of summer, air-conditioning costs will escalate. Newcomers sometimes make the expensive mistake of keeping their air-conditioning on even whilst they’re out. This is unnecessary, as air-conditioning systems quickly reduce the temperature in your accommodation when switched on.

You should also budget for the cost of international telephone calls, however call costs are kept low by Saudi Arabia’s government. This is to encourage international business and investment in the region.

Your cost of living will obviously depend on your lifestyle. When you’re negotiating a work contract, your prospective employer will usually produce a document that details the cost of living in that country, which is useful in helping you to decide whether the proposed job is attractive financially or not.

Average costs

The average monthly expenses for a single person, couple and family with two children are shown below. Prices as shown in US Dollars and in the local currency, the Saudi Arabian Riyal (SAR, ﷼).

Keep in mind that these prices are indicative. The effective cost is dependent on the city, or even the area of the city, you would live in.

                 
           

Monthly Cost

Item

         

Single

Couple

Couple with 2 Children

Housing

         

2355 SAR/630$

3300 SAR/880$

4950 SAR/1320$

Food

         

1000 SAR/270$

1500 SAR/400$

2000 SAR/535$

Utilities

         

630 SAR/170$

950 SAR/250$

1350 SAR/360$

Leisure

         

1000 SAR/270$

1300 SAR/350$

1600 SAR/430$

Transport

         

300 SAR/80$

450 SAR/120$

500 SAR/135$

Insurance

         

375 SAR/100$

565 SAR/150$

225 SAR/225$

Clothing

         

750 SAR/200$

1500 SAR/400$

2500 SAR/665$

Totals

         

6410 SAR/1720$

9565 SAR/2550$

13745 SAR/3670$

                 

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Other comments

  • Ruth, 11 December 2008 Reply

    A bit on the low side for housing

    • Jeff 20 Feb 2009, 06:12

      A lot low on the food side

    • abhi 02 Mar 2011, 03:11

      wrong info

  • Ruth, 11 December 2008 Reply

    Oh I see

  • Mat, teacher moving to KSA soon, 12 August 2009 Reply

    Sorry to tell you that you are spreading misinformation...

  • Mohammad Hasnain, 27 September 2010 Reply

    Objection on Article