Can you live in Saudi Arabia with an average US salary?

Are you curious about what ex-pats are earning in Saudi Arabia? Most people think it must all be millionaires living here. Unfortunately, the truth is that salaries for the highest percentage of ex-pats are very low. It does depend on where you are from and, of course, what you do. From rent and groceries to transport and education, Four Winds Saudi Arabia will give you an overview of the cost of living here. If you are an ex-pat looking to live and work in The Kingdom, we are here to answer whether you can live in Saudi Arabia with an average US salary.

How exactly are ex-pat pay scales decided in Saudi Arabia?

While not an apparent pick among ex-pats looking to further their careers in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia makes an intriguing choice for the money-minded. The cost of living in The Kingdom is generally lower than in the west. Moreover, salaries are enviable and personal income tax does not exist. And since there will be not so many chances for socializing after our international movers Jeddah relocate you here, you will also save plenty of money, very quickly. Here are the main determining factors that decide on an ex-pat salary in Saudi Arabia.

An arm holding a fan of money
In Saudi Arabia, nationality, qualification, and years of service determine what your salary is going to be.

They influence whether or not you can live in Saudi Arabia with an average US salary and are as follows:

  • Nationality
  • The Industry & Job Title
  • Qualifications
  • Years of Work Experience
  • The Market

Unfortunately, the most important determining factor for any job irrespective of the industry is nationality. This doesn’t mean it will impact your salary but statistics show find that Asians have the lowest salaries. In second place are Arab nationals who usually have medium salaries. Finally, Europeans & Americans earn the highest numbers.

Who can live in Saudi Arabia with an average US salary?

  • Asians usually earn 850 SR – 4,000 SR
  • Second-worst are Arabs and Saudi Nationals who earn 4,000 SR -12,000 SR
  • And, coming in first, with some top-notch salaries are Europeans & American citizens earning 14,000 SR+

To best understand this ex-pat pay scale, you should understand the following numbers:

  • 1000 SR = $266
  • 4000 SR = $1,066
  • 12,000 SR = $3,200

The best-paying industries and annual salaries for ex-pats:

  • Firstly, those in engineering could earn 250, 600 SR which is $67,000;
  • Secondly, there is telecommunications which could get you 205,373 SR, or $54,750;
  • Thirdly, banking will get you 202,907 SR or $54,093;
  • Next, ex-pats in the consulting industry usually receive around 178,306 SR, which equals to $47,530;
  • IT industry boasts salaries around 167, 837 SR, which is $44,744;
  • Health Care workers earn around 155, 400 SR, equaling $41,428;
  • Construction industry workers have 117, 645 SR or $31,360;
  • Finally, people at Hospitals (MFS) receive 103, 750 SR which equals $27,658.

Note that the above pay scales are average and not representative. Some salaries in those industries may be a lot lower and others a lot more favorable. A lot will depend on your nationality and of course your capabilities required to do the job. However, it is also important to note that salaries are tax-free. Which our movers and packers Jeddah can attest to. By law, the minimum wage in the Kingdom is 3,000 SR, but that’s for Saudis only. On the other hand, there is no minimum payment for foreign nationals.

Woman counting dollars wondering Can you live in Saudi Arabia with an average US salary
Presently, 15.6% of businesses in Jeddah are on the verge of ruin and 11% are facing financial hardships.

Most jobs come with additional benefits which we have included below:

  • Housing
  • Car or Travel Allowance
  • Daily Meals
  • Medical Insurance
  • Education for Children
  • Annual/Bi-annual Air Fare tickets

However, keep in mind that these benefits aren’t available to everyone. This means that all ex-pats will get housing, a travel allowance, medical insurance, and even airfares. On the other hand, not every line of work requires a vehicle and education allowance for children.

Property prices and utility bills in Saudi Arabia

Until recently, The Kingdom wasn’t allowing non-nationals to purchase property, so all ex-pats were restricted to renting. Yet, laws have lately been relaxed which means Saudi Arabia has allowed foreigners to buy property for business or residency. For comparison, apartments usually cost between SR3,000 and SR7,000/square meter in the city center. But if you settle for living on the outskirts of a major city, a property will cost you between SR1,800 and SR5,000/square meter.

When it comes to household utilities in Saudi Arabia, you will pay a minimum of SR350/month. The main bill includes electricity, water, and gas. The bill can potentially skyrocket in the summer when you have to have the air-conditioning on constantly.

Can you live in Saudi Arabia with an average US salary including healthcare?

It is mandatory for all ex-pats in Saudi Arabia to have private international health insurance if they want to access any medical services in The Kingdom. While you can go to public hospitals and clinics if urgent, wait times can be extensive… Plus, the Health Care system is complicated so it is best if you avoid it. A regular doctor’s appointment at a private clinic is approximately SR180. This is, you’ll agree, pretty reasonable compared to private healthcare in other countries.

Childcare expenses in Saudi Arabia

All daycare centers and nurseries in The Kingdom are private, so you can expect to pay between SR10,000 and SR50,000 per year. Good news, companies that have more than 50 female employees have a legal obligation to provide childcare during office hours.

Can you live in Saudi Arabia with an average US salary including groceries?

When it comes to groceries in Saudi Arabia, some items can be more or less expensive than in the US. Especially if they are imported. Here’s a list of common groceries and their prices in Riyadh:

  • Milk (l liter) – SR5
  • 1 loaf of bread – SR3
  • 1 dozen eggs – SR8
  • Bananas (1kg) – SR5
  • Water (1.5 liters) – SR2
Man opening his wallet and showing dollars
A simple meal in a basic eatery usually costs between SR20 and SR80. A fancy meal in a lavish ex-pat setting, you’ll pay up to SR300.

What can you expect after moving here?

While a typically lower cost of living and better salaries would seem to indicate a solid standard of living, other factors may prove to be the problem. But if those don’t deter you from living in Saudi Arabia, contact us! We will do our best to combat these concerns that don’t have to potentially lower your quality of life in Saudi Arabia.

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