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Life In Riyadh Saudi Arabia: What Expatriates Need To Know

How is life in Riyadh?

Moving to a new country can be a daunting prospect for many, but with the right information and preparation, it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. In this article, we will explore what expatriates need to know about life in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. From understanding the culture to uncovering the best places to live, this article will help you make the most of your time in Riyadh.

What to Expect About Life in Riyadh

If you’re an expatriate considering a move to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, there are a few things you should know. Riyadh is the capital of the country and its largest, with a population of over 7 million. It’s a vibrant metropolis with plenty of activities, but there are also some important cultural considerations to be mindful of.

Riyadh is known for being a very conservative city, so you should expect stricter social customs than in other parts of the world. For example, public displays of affection are not allowed and women are required to dress modestly in public. Alcohol is also banned in Saudi Arabia, as most of you would already know.

The climate in Riyadh can be quite extreme, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer season. The city is also prone to dust storms, so it is important to be prepared for both heat and sandstorms if you are living there. Life in Riyadh is a little tough if you are allergic to dust and dry conditions.

Despite these challenges, living in Riyadh can be a very fulfilling experience. The city has a lot to offer, from its rich culture and history to its modern amenities and infrastructure. If you’re willing to adjust to the local customs and climate, you’ll find that Riyadh is an exciting place to live and work.

What Expats Need To Know About Riyadh Life

Riyadh is a modern city with plenty of amenities for residents. There are plenty of shopping malls, restaurants, and parks for you to enjoy. The climate is hot and dry, so be prepared for some extreme weather conditions. There is also a lot of dust in the air, so it’s important to wear a face mask when outdoors.

Despite being a modern city, Riyadh is still very traditional. Women are required to dress modestly in public and men and women usually socialize separately.

Expats will find that there is a large expatriate community in Riyadh. You can find them on different Facebook groups and social media platforms. This can be a great resource for making friends and getting settled into your new home. There are also many international schools available if you want your children to continue their education in an English-speaking environment.

What The Locals Think

The locals of Riyadh are incredibly friendly and welcoming to expatriates. They are always willing to help with directions or recommendations on where to eat and shop. The locals are also very interested in western culture and are eager to learn about it. The youth of Riyadh is heavily influenced by American pop culture. They follow the African-American fashion style and listen to rap music.

How Expats Get Around

There are a few different ways that expats get around in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. The most common way is by car. There are buses and trains also, but they are not as reliable or comfortable as cars.

Car ownership is expensive in Saudi Arabia, so many expats opt to use taxis instead. Taxi drivers are typically friendly and helpful, although it is always a good idea to have your destination written down in Arabic before getting in the car.

Public transportation in Saudi Arabia can be challenging for women, as they are not allowed to travel alone without a male guardian. This means that taking the bus or train is often not an option for female expats. Using a taxi would be a better choice for women as it is more comfortable and convenient.

For those who do own a car, driving in Saudi Arabia can be challenging. The roads are often very congested and there are a lot of rules and regulations that drivers must follow. However, with a little practice, driving in Saudi Arabia can become easier.

The Cost of Living

The cost of living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is relatively high. Expatriates will need to budget for their accommodation, food, transportation, and other daily expenses. However, the overall cost of living can be neutralized by the high salaries that many expatriates earn in Riyadh.

Rent in Riyadh can be expensive, especially for luxury apartments and villas. However, there are many affordable and economical housing options available for expatriates. Food costs can also be high, but there are many ways to save money on food expenses. Instead of going for international food chains, you can opt for small local restaurants. These restaurants offer great regional cuisine at very affordable prices.

Transportation costs are relatively low, thanks to the city’s excellent public transport system.

Overall, the cost of living in Riyadh is higher than in most other cities in Saudi Arabia. However, the high salaries that many expatriates earn balance the higher costs of living.

Where To Live

Assuming you would like general advice on where to live in Riyadh:

When deciding on where to live in any city, it is important to consider what your priorities and needs are. Life in Riyadh can be a little different depending on the area where you decide to live. For many people, the cost of living and proximity to work are the top considerations. Others may prioritize access to public transportation, green space, or nightlife. No matter what your priorities are, there are plenty of great neighborhoods in Riyadh that will suit your needs.

If the cost of living is your top priority, then consider neighborhoods like Al Dana or Umm Al Hamam. These areas are relatively affordable and offer many of the facilities that you need to live comfortably. If you have a family, then you may want to look into areas like Olaya or Al Murooj that offer more space and better schools. These areas are more peaceful and are best suited for families.

For expatriates who want to be close to other foreigners and the action, then neighborhoods like Diplomatic Quarter or AdDiriyah are ideal. These areas are home to many embassies as well as restaurants and bars. If you prefer a quieter lifestyle, then look into residential areas like Batha or Al Nakheel where you can find beautiful homes nestled in more traditional Saudi neighborhoods.

No matter what your budget or lifestyle preferences are, there is a neighborhood in Riyadh that is perfect for you. With a little research, you can find the perfect place to call home during your time in this amazing city. You can use Expatriates.com to find a suitable house for yourself.

Taxes and Prices

The cost of living in Riyadh is relatively low when compared to other major cities around the world. However, there are a few things that can be costly, such as housing and transportation.

Transportation costs can also add up, especially if you plan on using a taxi or private car service regularly. Gas prices are relatively low in Saudi Arabia, but parking fees and tolls can add up.

There are no personal income taxes in Saudi Arabia, which is one perk of living here. However, there are other taxes that Expatriates need to be aware of. The value-added tax (VAT) is a 15% tax levied on most goods and services purchased in the country. There is also an excise tax on certain items like cigarettes. These taxes can make everyday purchases more expensive than what you may be used to back home. Much of the taxes on items have increased in the last 10 years.

Work Hours and Vacation Time

The work week in Saudi Arabia runs from Sunday to Thursday. Most businesses are open from 9 am to 6 pm, although some close earlier on Thursdays. Friday is the Muslim holy day, and many businesses are closed. Expatriates are expected to work 40 hours per week.

Vacation time varies by company, but most expatriates receive two weeks of paid vacation per year. Some companies also offer unpaid leave for religious holidays like Eid ul Fitr.

That’s all you should know about life in Riyadh for now. We leave the rest for you to experience and enjoy!

To learn whether Riyadh is safe to visit for international tourists, read our other blog article here.

Written by Travel Riyadh

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