A Guide to Finding an Apartment in Saudi Arabia

centre point riyadh saudi arabia

What do I need to know?

It is essential that you have a residency visa in place in order to secure a long-term rental agreement. This is why newly arrived expats often live in short-term serviced apartments or hotels. The first thing you need to know about securing rental accommodation in Saudi Arabia is that it is common for tax expats to have accommodation allowances as part of their relocation contract. This may include a certain amount being paid towards rent each month, arranged accommodation, having your agency fees covered or the full package.

Where do I start?

Looking for accommodation in the Middle East can be a daunting prospect, especially if you have little knowledge of your future home. The best place to start before considering accommodation is to get to know the country a little more. Luckily, we have done all the hard work for you. Check out our article on “Expat Guide on Living and Working in Saudi Arabia” which will cover all of the must-knows before beginning your search for accommodation. It is also recommended to become acquainted with the expat community in the area and see their recommendations and experiences of finding a place to live in Saudi Arabia. Fortunately, there is a well-established tax expat community across the country. You can discover these groups on websites such as InterNations and Meetup.com. This will allow you to join the international community within the country and feel more at home.

Are you responsible for finding your own accommodation? If so, it has been many expat experiences that the real estate offices showing little interest in renting out properties, in comparison to investments or buying opportunities. Once an area has been agreed on, it is recommended to drive around the desired area as a lot of property owners will place to rent signs outside rather than to list with a local realtor. It is also an option and will be extremely helpful to have a trusted Arabic speaker with you when meeting landlords.

keyboard typing desk

Where are the best areas to live?

Most tax expats tend to live in Western compounds, especially since the majority of contracts will already include accommodation in a prearranged compound. The most popular include Arizona Golf Resort and Cordoba (both 5 stars), as well as Granada, Arabian Homes, and Al Hamza (4 stars). You can view all the compounds available in Saudi Arabia through rightcompound, which details all the amenities and availability of accommodation. The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is on par or lower than the other expat-friendly locations in the Middle East.

Accommodation in expat compounds can be expensive as they are in high demand and few to come by. The villas or apartments can come either furnished or unfurnished and are heavily secured in many ways. It is not unknown for rent to be paid in a lump sum for one years’ rent. Some landlords will allow 6-month payments but then you are open to increases every six months. Due to these higher rents, it has been known for some expats to be declined accommodation if their employers are not providing a substantial housing allowance.

Other popular areas across the two main cities in Saudi Arabia for tax expats:

  • Olaya (Kingdom Towers, Al Fasiliyah Residences)
  • Al Sulemaniyah
  • Muhammadiyah 
  • Al-Safa
  • Ash Shati

I’ve found my ideal property – what now?

Compounds are either organised with your employer or you register your interest and speak with a representative, which is a much simpler process than if you are looking for a new place on your own. Once you have identified a potential property, it is important to inspect it carefully as you would for a property back home. Expat.com provides a handy checklist written by a Saudi expat to ensure your apartment is fully functional for your everyday peace of mind.

Need any more information about life in Saudi Arabia? Read our Expat Guide on Living and Working in Saudi Arabia.

If you are interested in a move to Saudi Arabia or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International about international tax opportunities, please contact a member of the leadership team. Alternatively, please browse our current international tax vacancies.