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Accommodation in Saudi Arabia

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Are you planning to settle in Saudi Arabia? Find out, in this article, what are the types of accommodation available there.

Saudi Arabia has been attracting foreigners across the globe mainly for professional reasons. Thus, accommodation will be one of your major concerns if you are planning to move there. Since employment contracts rather have a fixed term, it is best to rent accommodation. Purchasing accommodation should however remain an option.

In general, employers provide accommodation for their foreign employees. But in some cases, employers may offer to pay the rent price partly or fully. You will be entitled to an apartment or a villa found in a residential neighborhood, or in a compound provided by the company, especially intended for its employees. Moreover, some companies even own residential compounds which they put at their foreign employees disposal.

At the beginning, you are required to occupy the accommodation provided by your company. You are allowed to search for independent housing after some time and the company will still take care of your rent. However, relocation procedures will be your responsibility if you choose to leave the company's compound as per the lease document's terms and conditions. You should also be in possession of your Iqama, the Saudi resident permit, which will be required for many formalities.

Procedures

Most expatriates in Saudi Arabia prefer to live in compounds or self-catering accommodations. Regardless of the type of accommodation chosen, you will have to sign a lease document which will have a 6 to 12 months duration. Note that rent must be settled in advance, that is, before you start to occupy the housing unit. Obviously, you have to find accommodation according to your rent budget given that prices vary from one region to another.

Housing options

Independent housing such as apartments and villas can be difficult to find due to high demand. These are generally found in residential areas, but less popular with expat families. In fact, most of these are occupied by single men.

As for residential complexes or compounds, these generally consist of 6 to 200 units, ideal for single women and families. These are very secure and the access is restricted. Many expat families prefer this type of accommodation as it tends to meet Western standards.

Find accommodation

Unless you have mastered the Arabic language, you are strongly advised to be accompanied during your accommodation search by an Arabic-speaking person, and preferably from the region. As regards real estate agents, they are generally specialized in sales. But if you have friends or contacts in the country, word-of-mouth can be the best search tool. You can start by inquiring about independent accommodation with your colleagues, your sponsor or your employer.

You can as well search for accommodation on the Internet. This will allow you have a better idea of the types of accommodation available in the country, conditions and facilities attached, as well as on rent prices. Once you have found the one which best suits your needs, you can contact either the real estate agency concerned or the owner.

Lease

Lease documents generally have a 6 to 12 months validity period and are renewable. This applies to residential compounds and apartments. The only difference between renting an apartments and a compound housing will be the security level, especially when it comes to visitors. In fact, access to residential compounds is very restricted.

Lease documents are generally your employer's or sponsor's responsibility. As the rent has to be settled in advance, your employer can offer to pay it for you. The amount should then be deducted in installments from your monthly salary.

You are advised to seek the assistance of a real estate agency or specialist to assist you in related procedures. Otherwise, you may rely on a trusted colleague, or even on your company's human resource department.

If you prefer to rent independent housing, you will need the following:

  • your Iqama
  • a letter issued by your employer, stating your salary and your contract’s duration
  • a deposit made by your employer.

 Good to know:

The deposit is generally equal to one month's rent and will be refunded once you leave the premises. However, the amount will be reduced in case you have caused any damage to the housing unit, especially in case of furnished and equipped accommodation.

 Important:

In case of dispute, only the Arabic written version of the lease will be taken into account. You can still request for a notarized English version of the lease document. You are advised to wait for the translation before signing the document so as to understand all the terms and negotiations clearly (inventory, pets, commune tax, maintenance services, etc.).

 Useful links:

Expat.com – Housing offers in Saudi Arabia 
Expat.com - Real estate professionals directory in Saudi Arabia 
Dubizzle saudi.dubizzle.com
Property.sa realestate.sa
Bey3 bey3.com
Bayti www.rekingdom.com
Destination Jeddah (section Compounds) www.destinationjeddah.com
SBTD - Compounds in the Eastern Province www.sbtd.co.uk
CRFA - Compounds in Riyadh www.acrsa.com

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Being Saudi Arabia's second biggest city, Jeddah not only welcomes expatriates worldwide but also offers a range of accommodation options.
Jubail is known to be a huge industrial Saudi city. It has thus been attracting thousands of foreigners, along with offering housing.
If you are moving to Khobar, finding accommodation should not be a difficult task. Besides compounds, you can find apartments and villas there.
Riyadh is definitely one of the most popular Saudi cities with expatriates. Hence, it provides a range of accommodation options for all.

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