I was recently offered a job in Saudi Arabia. The company has offices in both Riyadh and Jeddah. Which of these cities is better for an expat to settle in? How do they compare when it comes to public transport, healthcare and schools? Hoping someone can advise.
Hi, though Riyadh and Jeddah share many similarities they also differ a lot when it comes to the overall expat experience. Generally speaking, it seems like Riyadh has more in terms of money and job opportunities. While, Jeddah offers more in terms of lifestyle.
Riyadh is much more conservative and religious, which may lead to more culture shock for expats relocating here. There aren't as many activities that expats can get involved with, and foreign cuisine is also harder to find and is mostly limited to Tahlia street. However, this city's accommodation tends to be cheaper and salaries are higher. Riyadh has distinct seasons. The summers are sweltering, and the winters cold enough to wear winter wear.
On the other hand, Jeddah is the most culturally diverse city in the Kingdom. Though still governed by the same laws and religious rules as the rest of the country, the atmosphere is more relaxed. With its proximity to the ocean, Jeddah has many water-related activities one can participate in. Accommodation may be more expensive than Riyadh, but there is a wider variety of options available to expats. Being a coastal town, the weather here is much more moderate and stays pretty constant throughout the year.
These are just some of the points one could compare between the cities. Choosing the city you relocate to is really going to depend on what is important to you - finances or lifestyle. You can get a more detailed overview of these cities in our city guide pages on Riyadh and Jeddah. Hope this helps!