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Accommodation in Saudi Arabia

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Have you decided to settle in Saudi Arabia? Find out in this article the types of accommodation available and what to expect in securing them.

Saudi Arabia’s real estate sector boom in the past several years can be primarily attributed to the millions of foreign expats that call this country home. Every year millions of foreigners re-locate to Saudi Arabia, often with their families who have job offers.

To house the millions of foreign expats, real estate in Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing sectors in the region. With rental properties soaring in the last ten years, the option for housing in Saudi Arabia has increased exponentially.

With limited options of property ownership in Saudi Arabia for foreigners, the rental market and compounds are a thriving business. Keep in mind that the majority of Saudi citizens occupying rental units only exacerbates the demand for rental properties.

Depending on your personal situation, housing may be completely taken care of by your employer. It is common that the employer secure housing for the employee. In some cases, the employer may issue a housing allowance, whereby the employee must secure their own housing. It is also common that the employer will pay a portion of the employee housing.

Saudi Arabia is famously known for its conservative society; while things are changing drastically, some things remain the same. Saudi Arabia has very strict rules on housing arrangements and the way the real estate sector does business.

Housing options

There are a few common housing options in Saudi Arabia. Outlined below is what to expect from the different dwellings.

Apartments/Flats:

The most popular type of dwelling in Saudi Arabia are low-rise buildings. Apartment buildings between 4 to 8 floors are typically found in the country. Please note that the lower building units tend to not offer elevators.

Villas:

Villas (mansions) are large homes that are secured with gates around its perimeters. The villas for rent are often partially furnished and often include swimming pools. They tend to be steeper in price and usually allow for single-family occupancy only.

Gated Communities:

Also known as “Western Compounds”, these gated communities include everything you would find in an average western neighbourhood. Only within the compound will you find that no societal restrictions are applied.

Lease

Once you have decided on your accommodation, there are a few things that are required at the time of lease signing:

  • Residency Card (Iqama)
  • Copy of Passport
  • Marriage Certificate/ Family Card (if applicable)
  • Payment (full/partial)

 Good to know:

It was once required that you submit a letter from your employer when signing a lease. This is no longer common practice.

 Important:

Failure to pay to rent is a criminal offence in Saudi Arabia, you can be charged and brought to court. It is very important to safeguard your lease in case of any legal dispute that may occur.

Find accommodation in Saudi Arabia

A quick online search to start things off is a great way to get an idea of what is being offered, as well as giving you an idea of price ranges, and reviews by other tenants. Listed at the end are popular sites that offer rental vacancies across the region.

Another way to search for accommodation is by word of mouth. Speaking to seasoned expats here on our platform is a convenient way to discuss, and ask questions and concerns you may have about accommodation in Saudi Arabia. Chatting with co-workers is also very helpful as they tend to have similar commutes, so asking about the areas where they found accommodation could be very beneficial.

Employers are great sources of information; they are accustomed to housing foreign expats and are often long-time Saudi residents so they can help with the search.

Across Saudi Arabia, you will find that the most popular means of advertising rental units is signage posted on the actual residential buildings. Several drives alongside major roads, favourable neighbourhoods, and popular areas will definitely open up opportunities.

Dos and don't of renting 

Do:

  • Rent near your workplace, as traffic in Saudi Arabia is dreadful during peak hours.
  • Negotiate on the rent, landlords will most likely high-ball you and will assume that you will negotiate.
  • Ask for recommendations before deciding, best reviews come from people in the neighbourhood.
  • Consider purchasing used appliances and furniture; it will save you a ton.
  • Ask for any repairs, fresh paint, electric outlets, tiling etc. to be taken care of before moving in.

Don't:

  • Sacrifice security for a cheaper price. Outskirts tend to offer cheaper rent but are less secure.
  • Move into the unit until you are completely satisfied with the work done. If they haven’t completed the work needed it will take twice as long after you move in.
  • Shy away from asking for a good deal. Everyone here is accustomed to hassling.
  • Pay anything until you have a written lease agreement signed in your possession

Dos and don'ts of compounds

Do

  • Expect a Western-style living arrangement. Where women are free to drive, dress and interact in public as they please.
  • Expect a community made up completely of foreigners. Many Saudis are forbidden.
  • Expect to pay a lot for your accommodation

Don't

  • Break any rules; the compound has the right to terminate your lease at any time.
  • Shy away from asking questions, and voicing concerns it’s your right
  • Limit yourself to the most popular compounds; newer and lesser known compounds offer more for less money.

 Useful links:

OLX
eSimsar.com
Lamudi
Zaahib
Listaproperty

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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