The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is generally on par with other destinations in the Middle East, however, this varies greatly between cities. Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living Survey ranked the city of Jeddah as 104th out of 209 cities, making it more affordable than several popular Middle Eastern expat destinations.

By contrast, the capital, Riyadh, ranked as the 31st most expensive city, showing its cost of living is higher than Abu Dhabi, Doha and Beirut.

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 education in Saudi Arabia

Schooling is another key expense for expat families. Public schools in Saudi Arabia are largely limited to local families; few foreign children can access them. Instead, expat children attend private and international schools where tuition can be prohibitively expensive. Standard tuition fees tend to exclude the cost of books, uniforms or excursion fees. Expat parents are advised to plan a budget for prospective schooling expenses.


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 often 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 household goods and food in Saudi Arabia

Electronic goods, groceries and tobacco products are reasonably priced. However, imported food and eating out can be costly.

Entertainment options in Saudi Arabia are somewhat limited as there are no bars or nightclubs for Western expats. Instead, money is easily spent on luxury items in the country’s many malls.


Cost of living in Saudi Arabia chart 

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on the average prices in Riyadh in January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SAR 2,100

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

SAR 3,100

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

SAR 1,200

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

SAR 1,900

Groceries

Milk (1 litre)

SAR 5.40

Dozen eggs 

SAR 7.40

Loaf of white bread

SAR 2.80

Rice (1kg)

SAR 6.80

Chicken breasts (1kg)

SAR 27.10

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

SAR 28

Eating out

Big Mac Meal or equivalent

SAR 24.50

Cappuccino

SAR 12.30

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 

SAR 130

Utilities

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) 

SAR 0.50

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

SAR 230

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

SAR 355

Transport

City centre bus fare

SAR 3.15

Taxi (rate per km)

SAR 2.10

Petrol (per litre) 

SAR 1.55

Expat Health Insurance

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