Living Expenses in Saudi Arabia from an expatriate's perspective
What are the living expenses in Saudi Arabia? This is very important question from the perspective of a 'would-be' expatriate. If someone is offered a job in KSA, they should compare the offered salary package with current living expenses to realize whether offer is attractive or not. Saving is most important factor for expatriates. No use leaving your home country if you cannot save a decent amount each month after paying for all expenses and sending money home to loved ones.
This estimate of living expenses is tricky. Everyone has their own standards of living and a given amount can be acceptable for some and too low for some. Some people are extravagant and others are frugal! I would try my best to make it as accurate as possible considering that each person has his own background and requirements. I will list the expenses that an expatriate living with his family (wife and children) usually meets with.
Undoubtedly THE MOST important recurring expense an expatriate has to encounter. A typical two bedroom flat anywhere in Kingdom may cost between Saudi Riyals 15000 to 25000 per year. Rent is usually paid biannually (in two installments). See our blog Renting an apartment in Saudi Arabia.
Note: Consider the house rent expense in neighboring Gulf states (UAE, Qatar, Bahrain etc) you will find Saudi Arabia a heaven. Those countries are way more expensive to live in.
New or used? Which model? What condition? The cost to buy a car varies depending on all these factors. Mind that an expatriate living with family most likely will buy a car (poor or non-existent public transport system in Saudi Arabia). Its hard to generalize the requirements an expatriate may have for a car. A used car in decent condition may cost between Saudi Riyals 15000 to 30000. It is usually going to be a one time expense (as long as you stick to this car). There is also an option to buy a brand new car from the showroom on installments (contract with bank). Based upon the terms of the rental contract with Bank, the monthly expense may vary between Saudi Riyals 1000 to 1600.
See our blog Buying a used car in Saudi Arabia.
Note: Petrol is very cheap in KSA. It is car owners' paradise. Category 91 petrol costs 0.45 Riyals/Litre and category 95 costs 0.60/Litre.
If you have school going children then you will have two options for their schooling. Either go for community schools which are run by your native country's embassy or education authority, or private 'international' schools. Community schools' education cost is very nominal (perhaps not exceeding Saudi Riyals 2000 per year). Privately run 'International' schools may charge you between Saudi Riyals 8000 to 18000 per year or more depending upon which city, which school and which grade your child is in. If you will use school transportation for pick and drop, it may add the expense of between SR 150 to 200 per month.
For everyday consumable items, like food stuff, refreshments, cleaning items and all other household things we use in daily life, a family may spend around Saudi Riyals 2500 to 3000 per month. It also includes occasional outings and having meals at economical restaurants as well as the utility bills (like electricity).
Medical insurance is usually and should be provided by your company. So there is no cost as such. Some OPD policies requires the payment of 20% or up to SR 100 for visiting a clinic or buying prescribed medicines.
Internet is everyone's requirement. Reserve a monthly budget of 110 to 300 for telephone line and internet. Cost varies for speed and service provider. Prepaid mobile expenses may vary between SR 50 to 100 per per month per mobile(hard to estimate really).
Based upon above estimate, make an 'above average' monthly budget for your family and see if it fits in the salary package you are offered. You should still be saving a reasonable amount per month. I would say that an expatriate earning SR 6000/month or less will be in tight budget to live with family. An offer starting from SR 9000/month can be considered acceptable. Again, just a personal idea and not everyone may agree.