Jun 7, 2024

Best Places to Live in Saudi Arabia For Expats


Picture of the flag of Saudi Arabia

If you're scouting for the best places to live in Saudi Arabia, finding the right city can turn anywhere into your sweet home. Saudi Arabia offers unique living experiences tailored to meet expat lifestyles and career ambitions. Whether you’re a professional seeking growth or a family looking for a nurturing environment, this country stands out as a top choice. This article guides you through some of the best cities to consider.


Riyadh, the capital city, is undoubtedly one of the best places to live in Saudi Arabia. As the political and economic heart of the kingdom, it presents a world of opportunities. However, whether you're considering moving to Riyadh for these opportunities or already planning your transition, hiring professional movers can significantly simplify the process. From packing your belongings securely to handling the logistics of transport, movers ensure a smooth transition to this vibrant city. You'll find everything from sprawling compounds to high-rise apartments catering to diverse budgets here. The cost of living varies, but after settling in Riyadh, you can expect to pay around $5,000 in a luxurious area and $2,000 in a more standard area.

When it comes to work, Riyadh is a powerhouse for careers, especially in industries like finance, healthcare, and IT. The city’s fast-paced growth ensures steady job opportunities, and the average yearly salary is $38,000. It's also home to many international corporations, providing a familiar environment for professionals from abroad.

In terms of lifestyle, Riyadh offers a mix of modern conveniences alongside traditional Saudi culture. While the city strictly adheres to cultural norms, expats will find ample malls, restaurants, and cafes that provide a slice of home. International schools are top-notch, offering education standards on par with those in the West, making it an ideal place for expat families.

While Riyadh can seem conservative socially, the expat clubs and social groups are very active, helping new arrivals settle in and meet people worldwide. Also, the recent social reforms have opened up more venues for entertainment and public events, making it easier for expats to enjoy their time off.

Picture of buildings in one of the best places to live in Saudi Arabia
The country's capital is always one of the best places for ex-pats


Next, consider Jeddah, the kingdom's commercial capital and a gateway to Islam's holiest cities. Unlike the inland capital, Jeddah has a more relaxed atmosphere, thanks to its coastal location. Housing here offers scenic Red Sea views, with expat-preferred areas like Al-Hamra, where rents are slightly higher but well worth the extra for the breathtaking vistas and proximity to international schools and hospitals. The prices range from $1,600 to $3,200 per month. 

Job-wise, Jeddah is a maritime, logistics, and tourism hub. The city's port is one of the busiest in the region, which means there are always opportunities in shipping, trade, and related sectors. The average yearly salary is $31,000. Additionally, with tourism growing, especially religious tourism, service and support industries are thriving, providing jobs that range from hotel management to customer service roles.

Life in Jeddah is about embracing change while enjoying a blend of modernity and tradition. The city is famous for its waterfront corniche, where locals and expats unwind. Cultural festivals and art events are increasingly common, reflecting a lively social scene that welcomes international influences.

Moreover, Jeddah's expat community is well-established, so newcomers can easily find networks and resources to help them adjust. There's always something to do or someone new to meet, from sports leagues to cultural exchange groups.


Dhahran is a very important location due to its role in the global oil economy. The city, known primarily for its vast oil reserves, is essentially the headquarters of Saudi Aramco, the world's most profitable company. This prominence translates into numerous high-paying jobs in the oil and gas industry, making it a magnet for skilled professionals from around the globe. The average yearly payment is $37,000.

Living in Dhahran often means residing in gated expat compounds that provide a high level of security and amenities such as:

  • Community centers

  • Swimming pools

  • International schools

  • Retail facilities

This setup ensures a comfortable lifestyle, which eases the transition for newcomers adapting to life in Saudi Arabia. The compounds also host various social events, fostering a close-knit community among expats.

Working in Dhahran is highly lucrative. The oil sector offers competitive salaries of $40,000 annually, often including benefits like housing allowances, healthcare, and return flights home. Such packages make it easier for expats to save and live comfortably.

In addition, the city is home to several international schools offering reputable education standards, ensuring that expat children receive quality instruction comparable to what they'd find back home. That is a significant consideration for families moving to a new country.

For recreation, expats in Dhahran can enjoy facilities dedicated to various sports and hobbies within their compounds. That further enhances their quality of life and provides opportunities to socialize and relax.

Picture of streets in Dhahran
This city is one of the best places to live in Saudi Arabia due to its high salaries 

Al Khobar

Al Khobar, near Dhahran, offers a different appeal with its coast and thriving business environment. Expats enjoy a lifestyle with numerous dining, shopping, and leisure options. The city's Corniche is popular for family outings and evening walks. The entertainment and laid-back lifestyle make Al Khobar one of the top five cities in Saudi Arabia for digital nomads. If you are one, don't hesitate to make the move! 

Al Khobar is also a business hub, especially for those not working directly in oil. With its proximity to Bahrain via the Causeway, many expats find it convenient for business travel or weekend getaways. The sectors flourishing here include:

  • Retail

  • Hospitality

  • Information Technology

This diversification of industries allows for a more varied job market, accommodating professionals with different expertise and backgrounds. Expect to gain around $25,000 a year working in this city. 

The Right Movers Will Get You To Your New Home

Deciding where you want to move to might be a headache, but getting there can be even worse if you don't have professionals to help. Therefore, arranging for a reputable moving company like Four Winds KSA before you make the actual move is important. That ensures everything is planned and coordinated efficiently, minimizing stress during moving day. With its rich history of expertise and service, this company can provide the comprehensive support needed for a smooth transition, whether it’s packing, customs clearance, or transport. They’ve been trusted by some of the most prominent figures and projects in Saudi Arabia, making them a reliable choice for handling your move from start to finish.

Cost of Living Compared to the USA

As you have likely noticed, the highest yearly salary in these cities doesn't exceed $40,000, which seems like a little compared to the USA average of almost $60,000. However, considering that the cost of living in KSA is nearly 50% lower than in the USA, the numbers make perfect sense.

Budgeting for homeownership and other living expenses is important when considering a move. While you will likely be renting initially, many expats decide to buy a home due to the long-term benefits of homeownership. 

Picture of plants and coins
KSA is considerably more affordable than the USA 

Which One Of The Best Places to Live in Saudi Arabia Will You Choose? 

Choosing the right city in Saudi Arabia involves weighing professional opportunities against lifestyle preferences. Each city offers a unique set of benefits. Remember, finding the best places to live in Saudi Arabia is about where you can professionally thrive while enjoying a rich, fulfilling personal life. Consider what each city offers and how it aligns with your needs and aspirations.

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