This instalment of FAQ’s is based on renting a home in Saudi Arabia. We get many questions from people worried about finding a place in Saudi Arabia and what the rules and laws governing rentals here so we figure we would get to the bottom of some…
Can single expat women/ men rent a place in Saudi Arabia?
For single expat women it is near impossible to rent a place solo in Saudi Arabia. For starters landlords are very hesitant to allow for single women to rent by themselves (legalities) and if they do allow for it they will almost always ask for a male co-signer.
As for males the issues are a bit blurred even thou they are allowed to rent freely they are limited to single male buildings. Buildings housing families do not allow for single males to occupy vacancies.
What are the lease contracts like in Saudi Arabia?
Almost all lease contracts are annual, thus rent prices are quoted by annual fees. Rents are fixed for the whole year and payments are either annually, bi-annually and or quarterly. Rent is almost NEVER collected monthly.
What is included in rent fees? utilities? electricity? water?
Landlords will only be responsible for the rental unit and nothing else. That means electricity, water, cable and telephone will all be additional. But keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is relatively cheap so the addition will set you back very little.
What is the difference between a furnished and unfurnished rental?
The most straight forward explanation is that a furnished rental is like living in a hotel. Hefty price tag with all the amenities and furnishing included. Whereby an unfurnished rental is significantly cheaper but is completely bare and consists of just walls and floors.
What is the average price for a 1-bedroom rental, 2-bedroom rental, villa?
Like all places location matters. Depending where you choose to rent the prices will reflect it. Bigger cities and locations closer to the downtown scene or seaside are higher in price where outskirt neighbourhoods tend to be cheaper. Another factor depends on whether the building is new or old. Newer building will consequently have higher price tags associated.
What is a compound? Should I live in one?
A compound is basically a gated-community where the rules of Saudi Arabia do not apply. In the communities men and women are free to mingle, women are permitted to drive on premises, most upscale compounds will include movie cinemas, fitness centres and bowling alleys.
Deciding to live in a compound is really a personal decision. I say so because some people find it very hard to live in Saudi society, especially if it differs drastically to their home countries. For those that can’t seem to bear the living conditions I suggest looking into compound living.
Also, one must consider that with compound living come huge costs. Average 1-bd unit in a compound will set you back around 40,000SAR/yr where living outside a compound on average would range between 12,000-15,000 SAR/yr.
Can I have friends over? Can I invite guests to my home?
Depending on where you live. For instance some compounds have strict rules on who may enter the compound grounds. Rules such as “no single bachelors, no Saudi’s , only Westerners etc are commonly held by most compounds. If you live outside (not compounds) you are basically free to invite who you please to your home.
Should I buy new or used furniture?
This is definitely a personal preference and depends on you living arrangements. There are things to consider like how long you plan to live in Saudi Arabia, do you personally enjoy fancier interiors and does your budget allow for it.
Where can I buy used furniture?
If you know people in Saudi Arabia you can always ask if they know anyone selling off their goods. Selling furniture in Saudi Arabia is very common because of the many expats arriving and departing the country there is always somebody looking to sell and even more looking to buy.
There are actual open markets (souqs) that are very large and stock mostly used or cheap new furniture. These souqs can be found in all the cities the more popular souqs are in Jeddah (Al Haraj) and Riyadh. Ask anybody about a souqs selling used goods and you are sure to find it.
For those of you that aren’t comfortable with previously owned items (like myself) then there are plenty of furniture shops in Saudi Arabia ranging from low-end to ridiculously high-end.
Is there an IKEA in Saudi Arabia?
There definitely is an IKEA in Saudi Arabia and I absolutely love it. There are 3 locations in Saudi Arabia found in Jeddah, Riyadh, Al Khobar. Visit their website here http://www.ikea.com/sa/en/.
Well there are plenty of more questions to go through, but I will leave with these for now….