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Living in Saudi Arabia

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By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 05, 2024

Summary: People describe life in Saudi Arabia as a mix of traditional and modern. Expats love the country's rich culture, the warm hospitality of the locals, and the many opportunities for outdoor activities. The cost of living for an expat in Saudi Arabia is generally higher than in other countries in the region, but still relatively affordable. The average cost of living for an expat is estimated to be around $2,000 per month. The population of Saudi Arabia is estimated to be around 34 million people. The largest cities in Saudi Arabia are Riyadh (the capital), Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, and Dammam. The cons of living in Saudi Arabia include the strict laws and regulations, the lack of freedom of speech, the lack of religious freedom, and the lack of gender equality. Additionally, the country is known for its hot and humid climate, which can be difficult to adjust to.

What do I need to know about living in Saudi Arabia?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Saudi Arabia, they said:

"Be open minded, expect little, and keep in mind what you're here for; be it the money or quality family time," explained one expat living in Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia.

"Expats considering retiring in Saudi Arabia should be aware of the religious and cultural practices in the country, such as Islamic laws and customs including restrictions on certain activities, for example drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited. Expats should also familiarize themselves with the local language, Arabic, as it is the official language, although many also speak English. When living in Saudi Arabia, it is important to be aware of the rules regarding gender segregation and dress code, as these are strictly enforced. Expats should also be aware that they will require a valid residency permit, obtained through employment or sponsorship, to stay in the country over a longer period. Lastly, retirees should take into consideration the cost of living and availability of medical care, as these can vary depending on the region," said one expat in Saudi Arabia.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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