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Retire in Medina Guide

Retire in Medina with confidence, armed with the knowledge from our extensive guide. It covers critical considerations for retirees, from the cost of living and climate to housing, healthcare, and residency choices in Medina. We also delve into the social and cultural scene, volunteering options, public transportation facilities, and the city's walkability, helping you make an informed decision.

Retiring in Medina is a unique experience that offers a blend of rich history, spiritual significance, and a warm, welcoming culture. The city is known for its religious importance in Islam, being the second holiest city after Mecca. However, it’s not just the spiritual allure that draws international retirees to Medina. The city offers a lower cost of living compared to many Western countries, a warm climate, and access to quality healthcare. However, like any foreign country, it also presents its own set of challenges such as language barriers and cultural differences.

Cost of Living

One of the major attractions for retirees in Medina is the relatively low cost of living. Housing, food, and utilities are generally cheaper compared to Western countries. However, it’s important to note that the cost can vary depending on your lifestyle and the area of the city you choose to live in. For instance, living in the city center is more expensive than the outskirts.


Medina has a desert climate with hot summers and mild winters. The city experiences high temperatures during the summer months, often exceeding 40°C. However, the winters are quite pleasant with temperatures ranging between 15°C and 25°C. This warm climate is ideal for retirees who prefer a sunny, dry environment.


Medina is home to several well-equipped hospitals and clinics, ensuring access to quality healthcare. Some of the notable hospitals include the King Fahd Hospital and the Al-Madinah National Hospital. However, it’s important for retirees to have comprehensive health insurance as healthcare can be expensive.

Public Healthcare System

While Saudi Arabia has a public healthcare system, it’s primarily for Saudi nationals. International retirees are advised to have private health insurance to cover medical expenses. Some retirees may qualify for public healthcare under certain conditions, but it’s best to check with the relevant authorities.

Residency Options for Retirees

Saudi Arabia offers a variety of residency options for retirees. The most common is the Iqama, a residency permit that allows foreigners to live and work in the country. There’s also the new Premium Residency, which offers more benefits and flexibility.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Medina offers a variety of recreational activities for retirees. The city is home to several parks like the King Fahd Park and the Al-Nakheel Park. For those interested in history and culture, there are numerous historical sites and museums to explore, including the Quba Mosque and the Qiblatain Mosque.


Medina has a vibrant food scene with a variety of restaurants offering local and international cuisine. Some popular spots include the Al Baik, famous for its fried chicken, and the Tabaq Restaurant, known for its traditional Saudi dishes.

Learning the Language

While Arabic is the official language, English is widely spoken in Medina. However, learning Arabic can enhance your experience and help you connect with the local community. There are several language schools in the city, such as the Arabic Language Institute at the Islamic University of Medina.

Local Culture

The locals in Medina are known for their hospitality and friendliness. The city has a relaxed pace of life, which is ideal for retirees. However, it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions, particularly during religious events and festivals.

Meeting People and Volunteering

Meeting people in Medina can be as simple as visiting the local mosque or participating in community events. Volunteering is another great way to connect with the community. Organizations like the Saudi Red Crescent Society often need volunteers.


Most retirees in Medina opt for apartments or villas. The city offers a range of housing options to suit different budgets and lifestyles. Some popular neighborhoods for retirees include the central city area and the quieter outskirts.


Medina has a well-developed public transportation system, making it easy to get around the city without a car. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also readily available. However, owning a car can be beneficial for those living outside the city center.

Retiring in Medina, Saudi Arabia offers a unique blend of spiritual fulfillment, cultural immersion, and a relaxed lifestyle. However, it’s important to do thorough research and planning to ensure a smooth transition to life in this fascinating city.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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