Moving to Jeddah?
Finding Accommodation in Jeddah
High Cost of Living, Lower Quality of Life?
Expats moving to Jeddah will be glad to hear that it is the least expensive metropolis in the Middle East. In the Mercer Cost of Living Survey2016, Jeddah was listed on rank 230 out of approximately 372 expatriate destinations. The biggest items in the annual budget of an expat family are probably health insurance (not every employer offers all-inclusive healthcare), tuition fees for schoolchildren, and rental housing. Unfortunately, though, the comparatively cheap cost of living is partly due to a lower quality of life.
In the international quality of living rankings, Jeddah has never been among the top 50 worldwide. On the one hand, the city is far safer than the embassies’ detailed travel warnings and the strict security measures at many compound gates can make it seem. However, its disadvantages include limited mobility (especially for expat women, who aren’t allowed to drive), lack of a public transport infrastructure, an extreme climate, a lack of leisure activities, and some environmental issues (water and air pollution from Jeddah’s industrial areas). And yet, if you have a generous salary or housing allowance, you can live very comfortably.
The ‘Gilded Cages’: Expat Compounds in Saudi Cities
In Jeddah, most expatriates move into so-called compounds. These gated communities cater particularly to foreign residents from Anglo-American countries, Continental Europe, and Japan. It is foreigners from such highly industrialized, non-Muslim nations that have sometimes become the target of terrorists. Therefore, employers, estate agents, and landlords will probably insist that they move into a residential area with special security controls. For some expats, this can cause the feeling of living in a ‘gilded cage’; others enjoy the extra safety and the amenities that compound life provides.
In upmarket compounds, facilities include a convenience store or small supermarket, a restaurant, a hairdresser, an info center, management staff, a swimming pool, a gym, various sports grounds, a nursery or daycare center and a playground for resident kids, limousine service and shuttle buses for expatriate women, etc. Obviously, such luxury comes at a price. Due to the city’s demographic growth and construction boom, housing prices are still on the rise. In July 2016, the rental prices for villas (i.e. free standing family housing) ranged from SAR 110,000 to SAR 250,000 per year, and family houses with several bedrooms are even more expensive within compounds.
The Housing Search in Jeddah
There are some factors that may complicate your housing search in Jeddah. First of all, not all compounds have a website. Even if they do, the information available online can be outdated. Contact details like phone numbers may change. Moreover, some popular compounds have very long waiting lists. Once you have get in touch with an accommodation provider, ask them immediately how long you might have to wait for a suitable apartment.
Also remember to find out what exactly is included in the rent. Does it already cover utility costs for water and electricity? Does it include a maintenance charge and fees for extras like satellite TV? Is the villa partly furnished or fully furnished? Which household items do you need to bring?
Before you sign anything, make sure that you have a certified translation of your rental agreement. If there should ever be a dispute, the Arabic version will be the one considered in court, so you should know what’s mentioned in fine print.
Expatriate Compounds in Jeddah
Below, you can find a list of some of Jeddah’s biggest compounds (some with more than 100 housing units each) and popular residential areas. If the property has a website, we have linked the homepage directly, or we have just listed a telephone number as of July 2016. In the Destination Jeddah magazine, you can find a more detailed list with the telephone numbers of many smaller communities (scroll down to compounds).
Arabian Homes: older, yet luxurious compound in North Jeddah
Al Basateen: located between Prince Sultan Road and King Road
Al Hajarayn: in the Al Shatti district of North Jeddah, near the Corniche +966 (0)12-6542354
Al Salam: located in the Al Rehab district, north of Palestine Street +966 (0)12-6717121
Belleview: off Madinah Road, at Al Amal Street
Binzagr Villas: on Madinah Road, one block after Lexus Showroom +966 (0)12-6672064
Kindi Housing: North Jeddah, Al Rabwah +966 (0)12-6910884
M&M Compound: North Jeddah, not far from the Amir Abdullah Mosque +966 (0)12-6562544
Mura Bustan: at the juncture of Madinah Road with Sary Street +966 (0)12-6910041
Sharbatly Village: in Prince Majid Street, not far from the international airport
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.