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

    a 3-bedroom villa on a western compound costs about 4 to 6 times as much as the stated 1200 dollars per month. (Late 2008)

    • Jeff 20 Feb 2009, 06:12

      A lot low on the food side

      You are way off the mark with regards to food. 500g gub of flora over £3, 375g breakfast cereals nearly all over £3, I find the weekly shopping bill is at least 50% higher in Kingdom and toiletries are very expensive.

    • abhi 02 Mar 2011, 03:11

      wrong info

      who writes this stuff !
      The prices mentioned are way off !

  • Ruth, 11 December 2008 Reply

    Oh I see

    "The price of wines and spirits, where these are permitted, is slightly lower than in the UK but higher than average European prices."

    I see - you've actually never even been to the Kingdom have you?

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

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

    Spirits/Wines/Beers/Liquor is strictly prohibited in the KSA. There is no place one can legally buy or consume alcohol. Got it?

  • Mohammad Hasnain, 27 September 2010 Reply

    Objection on Article

    Hi ,, Above posted Article doesn't seem to be fair and true, because i am living in Saudi Arabia since 12 years and enjoying my life standards in a luxury way. Above mentioned cost PM (per month) is highly exaggerated and i recommend to amend the information.

    $ 4,125 = SAR 15,469 .. What would be the income to manage these expense per month. its seems that person earning 30,000 or above can live in Saudi Arabia and others cant afford as in single its $ 2,350 = SAR 8,813. means a bachelor must be earning 15,000 or above and if so Why is he alone then ? A single ll buy new cloths each month amounting to $150 i.e SAR 563 . lol..

    I am living in a Huge villa with 5 rooms + 2 bathrooms + big lounge + big drawing room and out door villa portion to play even football or volley ball and the area is peace full and fully facilitated and secure and I'M paying 30,000 PA that comes to SAR 2,500 for 5 person in house..

    thanks..
    Mohammad Hasnain
    Email.