Western Compounds and Expat Housing in Saudi Arabia

Most expats find themselves living in Western compounds in Saudi Arabia (KSA). This expat housing is like living in a small self-contained holiday village (or prison, depending on your point of view). The better ones have multiple pools, restaurants, markets, and so on. Within the compounds the dress is Western, some going as far as banning any form of Saudi dress and certainly Saudis are not allowed on at all socially!

Generally accommodation on Western compounds in KSA is of reasonable quality and quite spacious. Compound living is quite expensive compared to living off compound (Anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000SAR for a 3 bed villa or even more) but most westerners choose this way of life due to freedom and security as well as the facilities. I would not recommend living off-compound if you have a wife and children; at least within the compound they have relative freedom.

Most expats have their accommodation costs paid directly by their employer who will also normally arrange housing. However, there is a shortage of good housing in the better compounds in the main cities, so it may take some time to get somewhere suitable for yourself and your family.

Personally, I lived in one of the medium sized compounds in Riyadh, known as Seder Compound which was at the time expanding its number of villas considerably to add many more guests. I also visited many other expat compounds in Riyadh and also Jeddah and Al-Khobar. When I moved to Jeddah however, I elected to live off compound and experience more about the local life here.

Compound Security

Security of Western Compounds
Security of Western Compounds | Source


The compounds are very secure. They have high concrete walls generally topped with an additional metal or net extension to prevent things being thrown over. Concrete blocks are placed all the way around the compounds preventing anyone getting close. To get to the entrance you normally have to drive through a concrete slalom course before getting to at least two security gates. The outer one will check your car and open the trunk. (Mine is often full of boxes, which could contain anything, but they don’t check inside!) The inner will check your ID, which, if you are a visitor, they will retain—a copy of which will then be sent to one of the ministries along with the name of the person you are visiting (big brother is watching you here!). They will also look after your moral wellbeing so don't expect them to let single girls through to see you if you are a single man!

In addition to the compound security you have the national guard, fully armed with automatic weapons, machine gun placements strategically placed to cover the entrance, and even a tank at one compound (at least one lighter vehicle at most compounds). The perimeter is often patrolled and cameras are placed around the perimeter to make further checks. It can be quite unnerving driving into one of the compounds if you are not used to this: hotels, embassies, and government buildings are similarly protected.

Living off-compound is not recommended for westerners, and is discouraged, as places that house Westerners are required to use and pay for the National Guard protection. I only know one Westerner living off-compound. I'm not sure if it's strictly legal under Saudi law, but he does it anyway as most people are not sure about the law!

Saudi Compound Video

Villas and Apartments

The quality and size of the accommodation can vary quite a lot between different Western compounds in Saudi Arabia, so it is best to go and have a good look around. However, when it comes to finding a place, it can be hard work. Most of the compounds are full and have a long waiting list for vacant space. However, waiting lists can be worked around if you know the right people and have the right tools (tools required are usually found in your wallet).

The best situation you can be in is if the company has already secured your accommodation; otherwise you could be in for a long wait.

Most accommodation on compounds aimed at Westerners is quite spacious and well maintained, normally around 150 – 200 sqm for a 3 bed type villa or apartment. A Saudi would consider this tiny! This will come with all of the usual rooms; kitchen, living area, bedrooms, and often multiple bathrooms—Saudis love bathrooms! If you are lucky you will also have a small garden, which is great for evenings.

Compound Housing for Western Expats
Compound Housing for Western Expats | Source
Western Compound Housing
Western Compound Housing | Source

Compound Life in Saudi Arabia

If your compound is aimed at Westerners then it will generally have a good range of facilities: swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts, shops, restaurants, and so on. They are self-contained villages and you can survive without ever leaving them.

Some have social clubs and clubhouses in which various events happen: parties, discos, meals, films, etc. The management and relations with local authorities will determine on how “Western” some of these events can become. Some have “bars” although these are run by residents on an unofficial basis and entry strictly controlled to residents and a few lucky guests. The drinks, however are usually home brewed and the quality can vary considerably. You can look at entertainment and things to do in Saudi Arabia for more information.

Guests are strictly controlled, lists having to be provided and approved before guests arrive. You cannot bring the Saudis onto the compound in the evenings as guests. You may be able to during the day for work purposes, but they will be expected to be going to your accommodation only!

As a single man you cannot bring in women! All guests onto the compound have to have their ID checked and their names will be passed to the “ministry” along with whom they are visiting. You will have to get her to visit a friend’s wife! There are always ways around these rules as long as you have a few friends.

Life can be very boring on compound after a while: same location, same people, same small places, etc. Many of the guys I know end up in “holiday” mode, congregating around the pool or friends' places every evening to have a drink and complain about work.

For the women who do not work, there are organized events, coffee mornings, trips to the malls, and so on. The restrictive rules applied outside are not relevant inside, and residents are able to dress normally, drive around, and mix however they wish.

No alcohol - Honest! Not even on Western Compounds
No alcohol - Honest! Not even on Western Compounds | Source


Some of the compounds in Saudi Arabia have schools/nurseries for the younger children. However, you will want to send your children to an “international” school where they will be picked up and dropped off. The school generally starts early morning and ends mid-afternoon.

I do not have children here, but friends are on the whole happy with the education that their children receive. The more expensive the school the better the level of education on the whole.

Small update: the international school that my friend's children attend in Jeddah has just been closed as the books that were used were not "Muslim enough" and they were teaching "Christian Values." All of the staff at the school have also been deported!

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Housing Off-Compound in Saudi Arabia

Living in housing off-compound is generally much cheaper in Saudi Arabia. You can find a good quality apartment for 40,000SAR or cheaper in the center of the cities and find something much bigger or a place with a private pool on the edges of the cities for a similar price.

I have an apartment that has two bedrooms, each about 4.5M by 4.5M and each have a large bathroom with both bath and shower. The living area is very large, around 100sqm in size in which I have my sitting area with sofas and TV, a dining area (sound system and lights set up as a disco area for parties), and a large space for my pool table! It's very spacious, and there is a kitchen and an additional bathroom. This is a small apartment and costs me 33,000SAR per year ($8,800).

My only additional costs are my electricity (around 100SAR), water (again about 100SAR: some buildings are on main supply which is free but unreliable, since buildings top-up from tankers that have to be paid for), and 100SAR that I give to the building guard to wash my car every morning (you have to do this daily since the sand and dust settles on the car every night).

Jeddah Saudi Arabia

Finding Expatriate Accommodation Off-Compound

Finding expat housing in Saudi Arabia off-compound can be quite difficult, especially if you want to avoid getting ripped off! Most Saudis will just drive around looking for notices in buildings, written in Arabic, or go to local real estate offices and ask. The real estate offices are easy to spot as they will be with the other small shops but they will look like a plush office with seating for a few extra people. You will almost certainly be ripped off as they will try to increase their commission at your expense. Finding empty apartments can be quite simple: just drive around the area you fancy and look for gaps where air-conditioning units should be as most people have to supply their own. Gaps mean vacancies. Ask the guard on the building and he will be far more honest about the price (but this should still be bartered), plus the guard will be able to give you a tour of the building.

Most rent is paid six months in advance, but you may be able to negotiate quarterly if you are lucky. They actually prefer expats as tenants as most Saudis are terrible payers. One of my Saudi friends rents out his family's apartments and is in court regularly to get money from defaulters or to get them to move on.

The Advantages of Living Off-Compound

Living in housing off-compound in Saudi Arabia gives you the freedom of movement, including for guests, that you don’t have on a Saudi Arabian compounds, but it does become quite lonely if you are alone. If you are not easily able to mix and find your own “fun,” don’t do it!

If you are a single guy living on compound and you want to invite single ladies back to your villa or apartment, it can be very difficult here in Saudi Arabia. However if you are living off compound in KSA, there is no security to get through, just very nosey neighbors keeping an eye on you! They do watch, and they complain if they see anything they don't like!

I far prefer this option: if I want compound facilities and parties I just get myself invited!

A Final Word

For Westerners, living on an "expensive" compound really is the best and most secure choice to make, especially if you have a family.

Most others live off-compound as it is much cheaper to live and they have large communities of their fellow country people to rely on. So be very careful if you choose to live off compound.

The best of luck in finding a compound or an apartment and I hope that you enjoy living and working in Saudi Arabia as much as I have.

Comments 143 comments

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Interesting life but I have no desire to even visit. Too much desert!

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

You would hate driving from one city to the next, hours between seeing life, just flat featureless desert as far as you can see.. Not a country that I would recommend to ladies anyway (more about that in a later hub).

Dobson profile image

Dobson 6 years ago from Virginia

LM - I think this is not my future. It is interesting to read about how you live.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Life here can be great fun if you have the right personality, the added benefits of a high wage and no tax make it really worthwhile.. Thanks for your comments Dobson

Wendy Krick profile image

Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

Thank you for giving us a descriptive idea of what it would be like living in Saudi Arabia.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thanks for your comments Wendy, most people enjoy living the compound life here as it is like being on a holiday camp 7 days per week. Myself however I prefer being housed off compound as there is far more freedom and you can have Saudi friends to your home unlike the compounds.

wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 6 years ago from New York, NY

Oh how I have waited with such anticipation in seeing what a party would be like with leanman. Someday maybe I will be invited to your house in saudi arabia!

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

You are invites any time you like to my housing here in Saudi Arabia, I will throw a party in your honor.

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing this slice of life from another culture. We live in a very big world

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thank you for reading and commenting Lisabeaman, we certainly do live in a very big world.

melodyandes profile image

melodyandes 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing, Amazing hub.

Veeds of Arabia 5 years ago

I would like to offer a few corrections. Living off-compound in a place like Riyadh makes mingling with the opposite sex even more improbable. I lived in a single men's apartment and it was literally impossible, short of sneaking a woman in through a back window (which I didn't attempt). There are security people (unarmed) at most buildings whose sole security function is to keep women from entering a men's building and vice versa. The only feasible way for an unmarried man and woman to enjoy an evening together (though not an overnighter usually) is via the compound. The rules for various compounds are as varied as the compounds. In some, a woman can invite a man over. In some, the woman's married friends can invite the man over (but must be at home to take the call from the guard station). In some, all that's necessary is for your name (whether you are male or female) to be on the guest list at the gate. In still others, there is an elaborate 2- or 3-part security screening with the host physically coming to escort you in and out. In all cases, as the author points out, your passport or iqama (work/residence permit) must be surrendered to the guard house. Whether that information is then passed along to a government ministry varies according to the compound. In many cases, the visitor must sign a guest register or have his/her name checked off on a guest list. However, these registries would not be of much value to a ministry due to the variability of spellings and handwriting.

The "freedom of movement" in off-compound living is often illusory other than in ease of getting a taxi. Certainly a man living in a compound who owns a car has much better freedom of movement than a single man living in an apartment who relies on cabs for all his trips.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 5 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi veeds, my expat housing was for "family" living when off compound in Saudi Arabia, even when I was not with my wife. The smaller apartment buildings and private landlords do not generally have guards or rules like that, you just have a host of very nosey neighbors and the caretaker of the building to work around.. I have always found that giving this guy a healthy tip each month to wash your car and other chores is a guaranteed way to help him overlook any moral code he may have!

I found living off compound was far easier for meeting women than living in a Saudi compound due to the excessive security on most compounds.

I generally found that most of the western guys I knew on compound in Riyadh and Jeddah would rather come to the parties that I held or was invited to either in various apartments, villas or some very nice little complexes with swimming pools.

Bernie 5 years ago

Great site, I am considering a job offer in Saudi & am looking for info before making a decision, this has been very informative thanks.

Aussie 5 years ago

Thanks for this mate, I have been headhunted to go and work in Saudi but after reading this will be giving it a miss. I make enough money on Aus and really enjoy the freedom to go everywhere at will. That said, good luck to all the expats for which this males sense - cheers!

Bernie 5 years ago

Like yourself aussie I was headhunted by Saudi company, I have a good job in the UK, they flew me out for a few days to look around, money much the same but overall package = to double money, see if company will fly you there to look, may change your mind, it did me, I'm loking forward to the challenge, not as restrictive as I was lead to beleive.

Mack 5 years ago

I wanna compound Manager Kind of job in Saudi.Can any of you guys help me!! I dunno if I am allowed to write my email here but I am still gonna mention it anyway.So lets see who can help me.I will so thankful my email is this ( .hope to hear from you guys.Bye

KZ 5 years ago


Nice post. Your apartment looks quite nice by your description. I moved to Jeddah a few months ago and am looking for one myself. Can you recommend which areas to look into for something similar. Thanks.

Andrea Chouhan 5 years ago

My husband's services were also sought after here in Houston, Tx. He accepted the offer as he was unemployed for over 7 months in the U.S. They are paying him more than what he made there and now I do not have to work. I am willing to move but bigger compounds are way to expensive and smaller compounds are not well advertised. How does one go about finding a decent residential compound for a family with kids.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 5 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Andrea, the easiest way to go looking for a compound is to ask around with the expats currently there and they can point you in the right direction. If your husband is already there then he should be able to find several options just by asking.

Andrea Chouhan 5 years ago

Thanks, leanman! Do you know of families living off compound that are quite happy? I keep thinking that when we arrive there next year (me and the kids) that we may be spending more time indoors due to the 100 degree weather outside. So, a bigger home will be more ideal. Our 4 bedroom home now is 3000 sq.ft. We don't want to be crammed in a small home. Your thoughts?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 5 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Andrea, thanks for reading. I don't know any western families personally that live off compound, and have never been aware of any. With a family you would be far better finding expat accommodation on a western compound, your children will be able to go outside (they will want to even if it is hot) and they will be able to mix freely with other children and use the facilities such as pools etc.

As to house sizes in Saudi Arabia, they are far from small, I had a 3 bed bungalow on compound and that was huge! They don't build small in Saudi!!

Getafix 4 years ago

It sounds like most of the villas are expensive. Can you please give me an idea about two bedroom apartment in a compound? I am in the process of negotiating a job. An early response will be highly appreciated.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Getafix, how is Asterix?? Apartments and villas on compound are more expensive than those off compound and can often be difficult to find, especially on the more popular compounds in Saudi Arabia.

You can expect to pay upwards of 50,000 Riyals a year for a two bedroom place on compound.

However most standard contracts cover your accommodation costs in Saudi, it would be unusual to only have a salary. Most companies pay the compound directly and you will have little involvement as they will source your accommodation also. Some however pay you a housing allowance and you have to find and pay for your own villa or apartment.

My last company paid me 10,000 riyals every month as a housing allowance, I lived in a luxury 4 bed apartment off compound which cost me 36,000 per year so I managed to save 7,000 every month to add to my savings!

However if you are from the west then it is my understanding this is not strictly allowed to live off compound (which are guarded by the military to protect people from the west) and most companies would object to you doing this - I just did not tell anyone!

Check with you company what the package is for your accommodation.

Getafix 4 years ago

Many thanks LeanMan for your quick response. Asterix is busy with a fish fight in the village.

Thanks for the informative response. My preference is to live in a compound as my wife will accompany me, but it is really difficult to get any price info from the compound website. Just to give you a bit of background, I’ll be moving from London UK. On top of my salary, I have been offered housing allowance of $1,600 per month which is roughly SAR 6,000. In addition to that a transport allowance of $332 per month which is roughly SAR1,200. Does it sound reasonable to you? Since we are only two of us a two bedroom apartment will be good enough. But my concern is to find a decent social life.

Thanks to you for maintaining such a useful blog.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Getafix, I have already responded to the email that you sent me on this same subject; you should be able to find an apartment or a small villa on one of the many compounds in Jeddah. Saudia City, the airline compound may be one of your best bets as it tends to have more frequent vacancies.

It is however difficult to find somewhere empty in Jeddah!!

You will be better off on a compound that is for sure if you have a wife, off compound she would find it very difficult to have any form of social life whilst you are at work.

US_Traveler 4 years ago

Hello Leanman: I am a US citizen that is being recruited to Jeddah for a medical contract. Is it really easy to dave money over there? The starting salary is 66500 for a one year commitment. My question also is, how much could a person reasonably expect to return home with? Thanks for the great posts.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi US_Traveller..

Not sure if your salary that you mention is in dollars or riyals, annual or monthly.. Also will your Saudi compound be covered or is that part of your salary? Most people have their accommodation as an extra to their salary.

You should be able to save reasonably easily if you have no commitments outside of Saudi Arabia. Assuming that your housing and traveling are all covered you will be able to survive happily on just a couple of thousand riyals each month and be able to save the remainder.

Obviously if you go there with the intention of saving and minimize your expenses then you can come home with much more..

After 4 years I have bought 2 houses, extra land, bar, new car, etc..

Chameleon 4 years ago

Im considering taking a job in Jeddah at a university. As a single western woman at 30 years old, Ive been told that Jeddah is more open than Riyadh. Aside from all the rumours I hear, I trying to get some fact about what life is truly like for a western woman when compared to a western man. Ive read so many forums, but it still seems like there are so many restrictions. Do you completely sacrifice your personal life even on the compound?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Chameleon,

Yes Jeddah is much more open than riyadh, but for a woman alone it would still be a huge change to what you are used to. Most western compounds in Saudi Arabia are just like being on a holiday camp back home, however if your compound is specific to your work at the university there may be restrictions due to your employer and your conduct on compound may be reflected in how you are treated at work.

I would suggest that you ask your potential employer to introduce you to some of the other women they employ from your country of origin so that you can chat to them via email or skype and get a real view of your future there.

Please also read some of my other pages here about women in Saudi Arabia and how expats are treated.

Good luck in your decision, if you need additional information feel free to contact me through the links at the top of the page.

Mansfieldp 4 years ago

Hi LeanMan,

I am looking for a job in Jeddah so I could move there from UK and wondered if you could recommend a good site for me to search on.

All my experience is in Purchasing/Logistics but it not a neccesity for me to stay in this field.



LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Mansfieldp,

Living in Jeddah is quite pleasant, I did it for over 2 years and enjoyed it.

If you look in the section below these comments you will find links to a number of articles that can help you in your search.

Mansfieldp 4 years ago

Thankyou LeanMan... I missed those links completely.

Shanty 4 years ago


am moving to Dammam in a coupla months...would like to know if I can get a 1 bedroom house in a compound in Khobar for around 42000 SAR per annum..

please help..

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Shanty,

42,000 Sar is a little on the low side to find something on a saudi compound in Dammam. You may be lucky and find something on one of the smaller older compounds but you will have to look around.

You may be better living off compound in Saudi Arabia if you are looking to save money; you could get a single room for maybe 8,000 or a small apartment for 12,000 or less. Good luck in your search.

Sherif 4 years ago

Hi LeanMan, seems that you are an expert in Saudi and need a quick advice , I got an offer in Riyadh after many years living in Dubai , the package is better than what I'm earning today (+15k SAR)and i'm a bit confused whether to accept or not! however my question is about the housing in a compound as I have 3 kids who used to this life style ,so how much could a descent villa cost in a nice compound with pool and other facilities ? ( 3 bed)

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Sherif 3 bed housing on Saudi Compound, a nice one, will cost you upwards of 90k per year. Most companies give a multiple of salary to work out entitlement (3x monthly) and some just pay! Ask your prospective employer what they can offer, they will probably source your villa for you!

Neffy 4 years ago

This was such an informative article. I am getting ready to move to Riyadh for work; my job will provide the housing(off compound). I've seen pictures and from what I can tell it's quite small so I'm considering finding a place on my own. Your article helped me understand the housing a whole lot better. Thank you for sharing this.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thank you for reading Neffy, I hope you find the Housing in Saudi Arabia that you want.

Brian 4 years ago

Do single men stay in different compounds from the families??? If that is true if my girlfriend was visiting could she put on a wedding ring and come into the compound. What's a way round that??? Cheers

Brido 4 years ago

Hi leanman,

You seem to be the man in the know am getting conflicting stories can you confirm???

Being a single guy does that mean you have to stay in a compound only for singles guys??? Or are they mixed single guys and single girls and married all together???

If moving over there is a few married couples and if my girlfriend visited what's the best way to get to see her????


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Brian/Brido, Saudi Arabian Compounds are generally mixed although some companies have their own single sexed compounds (usually women only for some of the female universities). You could not get a girlfriend onto the compound as she would not be let in without proof of marriage unless she was to be visiting another couple on the same compound! The compound guards will not let in women to visit a single man (unless you have some sort of arrangement!)

The way to meet her is through her visiting someone else (a couple) not you as all visits are recorded and id is kept and forwarded to the various ministries.

If your girlfriend is overseas then it would be almost impossible for her to get a visit visa as a single woman to visit you on your Saudi compound.

Sir Cook 4 years ago

Hey man, I don't need to tell you but, nice article! I'm thinking about taking a job over there working on airplanes for $150,000/yr. it's pretty tempting. It would be in Riyadh, company says they pay for housing so even if it's just a little apartment...fine by me! On to the is the Internet over there? Fast enough for video calls? I saw you mentioned Skype, so that sounds promising, I assume we go through one of the Saudi carriers for it? I just want to make sure that I can have a Wi-Fi network in my home there to use FaceTime on my iPad so I can see my wife and kid while I'm there. Also, cell service? Can I use my phone from here over there, the iPhone 4S is supposed to be a world phone (GSM and CDMA) so I can use it there right? Obviously long distance rates will be ridiculous but when you gotta talk to your kid, you gotta talk to your kid, ya know? Also, electricity there, 110? 220? (on compound)

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Sir Cook, the internet on Saudi Compounds either through phone lines, or through the mobile network is quite good and on the whole fairly reliable. Certainly good enough for skype etc, I used a satellite broadband provider during my first year there which was not censored and after that I used the mobile network which gave an excellent service which of course I could use anywhere. Phone rates are not too bad when calling abroad, it certainlt didn't hurt my bill too much!

You are likely to get a fairly luxurious and spacious apartment or villa so you are not likely to be disappointed!

Most of Saudi is wired to both 110V and 220V but they hardly ever label anything to tell you which socket is which so beware!!! I have noticed that generally the 220 in the apartments I have had is the one closest to the AC as that runs on 220. There will be AC in EVERY room.

Good luck with your new job, I hope you enjoy living on compound and Saudi life in general.

Invisible 4 years ago

Hi Lean Man, Test Message

givemeway 4 years ago

Dear LeanMan, My gratitude and thanks goes without say this in words. Many Thanks for this forum. Now where am I coming from to ask for help is like this. I am an Indian, Married with a daughter of 5 years of age. I have been working here in India with McDonalds for last 14 years. I have recently got an offer from Jan Burger from Saudi Arabia. This is a local Brand and in now been brought by Al Rajhi bank. The Offer in terms of compensation is 336000 SAR /Annum. The salary is quite attractive however I am not able to make up my mind basis on attractive alone. Little more about my concerns. What if I am brought over there with this salary and my employeer denies to actually pay me the same amount as all the agreement will be in arabic which I do not understand. With this salary I can afford to stay in compound, however not sure there are more Indians Staying in compound. I would either be placed in Jeddah or Riyadh how difficult would it be to get accomodation in either cities. My last and final query is that I have heard about a lot of stories about work life in Saudi that your employers can hold back your passport not allow to go back till your contract is over and have a miserale life. If at all I get into this situation what would come to my rescue and how. Many thanks again and Hope you wont mind answering all of them


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Givemeaway, I am sure you will end up living on an expat compound in Saudi Arabia so you will have some freedoms at least. The company you mention if owned by AlRajhi should pay wages as they have agreed so you should not have too many problems. Companies do hold your passports and some do at times refuse you leave but not normally for employees in your wage bracket although it does happen.

There are a bunch of links in the section below to other hubs about Saudi Arabia life, have a read through these I am sure that they will answer many of your questions.

rustyhobo 4 years ago

Hey LeanMan, Thanks for all your posts-really informative for someone considering the move. I've been offered a position working for a contractor in Aramco and just found out my accommodation is an apartment in Dammam which is not in a compound. I'm a single women from the UK and slightly worried about safety, independence(being stuck at home once I finish work) and travelling to and from work late at night(my shift finishes 10pm). What do you think? Do you know of many/any in similar situations? Thankyou:)

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi rustyhobo, I would be concerned about this accommodation as a single woman in Saudi Arabia, it would be much better if you were on a compound. That being said check who else is being housed in the building as often they will only house females together so it is unlikely you will have single males in the building.

What are their arrangements for transport? Most companies will have company transport to and from work.

rustyhobo 4 years ago

Thanks Leanman. Yes there is just women in the apartments, but only one other westerner. They put on bus's for the women to get to work but these are all very early morning and would not tie in with the shifts I'd be doing. So taxi would be the option which I hear can be a nightmare & you can wait a long time for even if you try to be organised! It sounds a small thing but for first time living in Saudi I feel a compound would allow me to be more relaxed and the opportunity to meet others at pool/restaurant etc rather than spending the time sat in my flat waiting for an illusive taxi! Thanks again for your help.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

See if you can get a contact email for the other westerner in the building and chat with her to get an idea of how it is there. I lived off compound and it was great for me - but I am not a female! If you find a taxi that you feel you can trust get his number and give him plenty of notice when you need to go out! (Failing that a car with all the windows blacked out could solve your problems! - you have to ask yourself why you see so many like that.)

Dude 4 years ago

Thanks Leanman !

Daniel 4 years ago

Hi, Leanman thanks for the Intel. I was wondering how you would go about finding an apartment off compound I've had a looked at some hotel/apartments and they were all pretty nasty - old furniture, odd smells, dirty toilets, uncomfortable mattresses etc. Would really appreciate a quick response, I am to move soon and becoming worried.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Daniel, very simple to find an apartment off compound; read what I have written above! But.. cruise the area you like and look for buildings with missing ACs as this tends to indicate a vacancy, or look for "for rent" signs (but take someone that can read Arabic! Also look for the agents that are available in most districts, their office will look like a plush waiting room in among the other stores.

Daniel 4 years ago

Wow that was fast, I'll be on the hunt first thing tomorrow. Thanks mate your a legend!

jetset 4 years ago

Hi leanman, as per the current price trend, would i be able to rent a 1 or 2 bed appt (for single male occupancy) in a nice/secure western compound in SAR 90,000 per year. do i need less or more ?


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Jetset, as long as you can find a vacancy you should be able to find something within your price range on a Saudi Compound.

Dude 4 years ago

I have accepted my offer of 11 k SAR/Month including accomodation & everything. I get I can save good amount of money from it as in Indian Engineer. Now next step is to look for a acco in al khobar at the rate of 2k/month max. Any help ?

Dude 4 years ago

Should I wait for resigning from the current employer in India to await getting proper VISA from Saudi Employer as in offer letter it has mentioned that "Subject to approval of Saudi Authorities" Please advice

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Dude you should have no problem saving money on that wage. As to accommodation read the tips above about finding apartments off compound in Saudi. Most will have signs up, or be missing air conditioner units and you will also find that many of your countrymen will know places.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Dude, until you get a visa number you will not know for sure if you have a job, many Saudi companies are currently experiencing difficulties in gaining visas for expats due to the countries drive to reduce local unemployment.

Dude 4 years ago

U r of great help man ! Thumbs up to u. Thx

Joe 4 years ago

Hi , am considering an offer in Saudi. Have the option of bringing my family of wife and two kids along. But then i understand i need to look at at least a 2 bed acco in a compound. Would like some understanding on how much would that cost in SAR yearly basis? what about a single bed compound villa in the event i keep my family at home. Do compounds also have apartments or do they only have villas?

Ola 4 years ago


Me & my husband are considering a job offer in Riyadh. Is there any compounds (one bedroom)to be considered within 40,000 to 55,000 SR. ?? If u can give me names please..

Thank you

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Ola, you should be able to find on one of the smaller compounds however you will need to search around. I would suggest that you ask your sponsor as they normally will find for you.

Mathew 4 years ago

Great posts u guys and useful info above.I am a bit skeptical about excepting my job offer in Saudi Arabia , Riyadh. salary wise there is nothing more to ask however thinking that I would be away from parties and fancy nightlife scares me. Most of the foreign women there are with their families as normally single women are not easily eligible or actually nearly impossible to be granded with visa. So in a human, logical, cultural, scientific, sentimental, attraction point of view, how a man can live there and work?Does it really worth the money? I would definitively hate to use detective skills for something that normal people do, flirt.We are humans in 2012,I m wondering why I still thinking about this offer and not totally tearing apart this piece of paper.Any opinions people are well welcome, Thanks Mathew.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, fascinating insight on living in Saudi, not sure that I would like to live there with so many rules and regulations, but this was a fascinating hub, thanks

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Mathew, flirting and dating is not impossible; in fact it is very easy in Saudi Arabia as long as you are prepared to break a few rules and take e few risks.. Read my article about dating in Saudi Arabia, the link is in the section below the comments.

If you live on a good Expat compound in Saudi Arabia I am sure you will have plenty of parties and will meet plenty of single women from may different countries.

Good luck..

Naj 4 years ago

What is the compound with most single women in Jeddah?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Naj, not sure, I will go off and have a count for you. If you should finish your count before me please let us know and enjoy visiting all the Jeddah compounds.

shamimhassan 4 years ago

Well you can hire a taxi on monthly basis, but this will be very expensive. Tabuk is like Shimla and it can be very very cold during the winters.

There is a large Indian and Pakistani population all over Saudi Arabia including Tabuk.

Carrying the pictures of Hindu gods is not allowed in Saudi Arabia on person or in the house.

You are free to roam around,and visit various places, mix up with local population and enjoy yourself as long as you dont violate the local law and culture.

The simple rule is, love and be loved, respect and be respected. Wish you all best in your new appointment.

Dr. Shamim A. Hassan

BeverlyAnn 4 years ago

Why would car windows be blacked out? Are women driving themselves pretending to be men?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

It is rumoured that a few women do drive, with the windows blacked out you could never tell and the police are unlikely to stop a top of the range brand new car. However on a western compound in Saudi Arabia you can drive yourself anywhere you like.

ScammedByHotel 4 years ago

Hey Leanman

Thanks for a very informative forum on life in KSA. I enjoy reading your advice.

Quick question - are there any long stay accommodations in Jeddah for say 4 week stay ? I am tired of paying the business hotel daily rates for decent room + internet. I usually stay for a week at a time, but this time I may to extend for many more weeks. Hence looking for slightly cheaper options that are still decent.

Any help is appreciated.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

There certainly are, I stayed in a two bedroom apartment which if remember correctly cost me 90riyals per night and I stayed there for 3 weeks. There are a variety of apartment buildings that offer short term rentals, if you ask your sponsor I am sure they can point you in the direction of some. Failing that get friendly with a taxi driver and ask them to help you find one, they will obviously charge you but agree the fee before you start!

shahnawazu 4 years ago

Hey Leanman, great info..I have worked in manufacturing industry implementing various lean initiative for the past 5-6 years in UK. I am very close to receiving an offer from one of a manufacturing firm based in Riyadh. Can you suggest a salary range I should ask... how much a western educated lean practitioner can earn?...

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Shahnawazu, I would suggest any salary that makes you happy! While you may have been implementing lean in the UK your name suggests origins other than the UK and Saudis are apt to offer wages on your country of origin rather than the skills that you have to offer.

That being said, go to and you will find that they have salary details for many jobs across the region including Saudi Arabia so you will be able to check what others are getting for similar roles.

Good luck with you work there, feel free to contact me using the "contact leanman" below my profile picture top right.

rajkumar 4 years ago

hi leanman and all indian........ i am from india working as an engineer recently i get an oppurtunity to work in dammam including fooding an accomadation.. just i want to know the culture of arabian in dammam i belong to hindu family.. is there any hindu temple ?? is there any resistriction for worship of hindu'god or godess ....

if any body knws about the indian culture and locality in dammam plz tell me.......

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Rajkumar,

There is a large Indian community in Dammam as there is in most of Saudi Arabia so you should find plenty of your countrymen to socialize with.

Carrying religious items such as books etc which are not Muslim will get you in trouble, there are only Muslim Mosques within Saudi, no other buildings are allowed.

That being said it is being rumored that the holiest of places for all Muslims in Makkah was in fact originally a Hindu shrine before it was taken over by the prophet. How true this is I have no idea but there is much written about it if you want to look online.

HZ 4 years ago

Hi Leanman,

Your apartment looks quite nice by your description. I moved to Jeddah a few months ago and am looking for one myself. Can you recommend which areas to look into for something similar. Thanks.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi HZ, sorry for the delay in responding but your comment was picked up as spam for some reason. My appartment was behind the Saudi German hospital in Jeddah not far from Shatti souk. That is a reasonable area to live and not too expensive.

Driss 4 years ago

Hi, Great blog. My name is driss, ireceived a job offer from KSD, but i dont think its great. the job would be in Jeddah, and the salary is 110.000 RSD per year everything included (transport, housing, evertgh else). I wanted t know if (with a normal style of life, i mean i dont need fancy things or spend a lot of money ) i can have a calm life in jeddah, knowing that i have to look for appartment. I would appreciate so much your answer. I have to decide very soon if i should accept. Than you

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Driss

You can survive easily on less than 1000SAR per month as an individual if you do not have extravagant tastes and want to eat out every night. You are not clear in your comment if your housing etc is separate as for most contracts it is. Even if not you can take a room for around 1000 per month or find an apartment for around 12-15000 per year.

The other thing to consider is that once you are within the country finding a better paid job is not that difficult for the future.

Mani 4 years ago

Hi Lean man ,

Which is best place in riyadh for indian family ? I mean safe place for indian family ?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Mani, there are many Indian families living in Riyadh. You will be able to find a place in just about any area of the city with neighbors from your own part of the world.

funksoulbrother 4 years ago

Hi there

Really enjoyed reading your hub as i contemplate moving my family to Saudi from the UK.

My prospective employer is offering me a similar salary to what i earn in the UK (£60k)but has now decided they can only pay accommodation costs for the first 2 months. id be looking at a 3 bed on a good compound - what do you think is a reasonable amount to expect them to pay for accommodation (all of it or a contribution)? If moving to Saudi is principally a financial situation how much more should i expect the overall package to be compared to my normal UK salary do you think?)Much appreciated - a big move to consider armed with so few facts

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Funk..

Most companies in Saudi are offering initial salaries that are not much different to UK salaries when the recruit direct from the UK. However your employer is responsible for your housing so I would clarify exactly what your housing allowance should be, especially if you are moving with family as you will need a place on a western compound to preserve their sanity. A 3 bed place on a good compound can easily cost you in excess of 80K SAR per year upwards which is a healthy chunk out of the salary that you mention.

That being said your salary is tax free (if you stay out of the UK long enough during the tax year, check the IR rules because there are a few twists that you should make yourself aware of.)

You should also know that the cost of living in Saudi is much lower than the UK, especially when you look at your household bills and fuel bills for the car. You will easily save a good chunk of your wage.

You also stand a good chance of increasing your wage when you get to Saudi, most expats I know that have the "mega salaries" got those when networking within the country. It is not unusual to be able to double or triple your salary with a company move inside the kingdom. I certainly first entered on a salary similar to that you mention (Plus car, accommodation, health etc) and ended up with a salary a little short of three times that within a year.

Good luck, if you have more questions feel free to contact me.

Alburai Mohammed 4 years ago

I'm Translator.

English to Arabic to French and the opposite.

It will be my pleasure and honor working with you having a job in your compounds and your group. Thanking you.

Alburai Mohammed 4 years ago

my contact e.mail

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Good luck, hope you find some work.

alvink 3 years ago

Hi I am British Citizen got an offer from MOD (ministry of defense) to work in armed forces hospital in Khamis musahyt as a Head nurse and they offered me 18400SAR per month with free accommodation.

It's a single contract but they have assured me that i can bring my family after 3months .

Now my questions is i have 2kids going to primary school in uk is it easy to get a school admission? do i have to pay for the school?and once my family arrived will they offer me a free accommodation? or do i have to find my own? and is the salary they offered me is enough or do i have to consider negotiating? i honestly don't know whether to take it or stay in UK?

Please advice me on my email:

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 3 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Alvin

If you go to you can check salaries there but at the end of the day your salary is a personal thing - if it is enough for you then it is enough. The cost of living in Saudi is very low so you will not spend very much.

If your contract is a "single" contract you need to find out if they will cover any expenses at all related to your family. Accommodation on compound can be relatively expensive so if they are only providing something suitable for a single then it may not be enough for your family. Check!

I would not consider living off compound with a family! Your wife and children will be highly restricted as to what they can or cannot do; it is VERY different to England.

That being said if they are providing you with accommodation on compound that will be big enough for your family then you should be fine. You do have to pay for schooling but primary level is not going to break the bank on the wage you are being offered.

Read as much as you can about the country and how it works before you go, there are many links in the article above you can follow. If you need any more help then you can contact me through my profile page (top right).

Mustashar Aqari 3 years ago

Welcome to Jeddah.

If you are looking for a comfortable villa, we have the ideal offer for you.

4 br, 2 living rooms, open reception, kitchen fitted with all appliances.

Shared common facilities for sports, swimming pool etc.


The offer is for Companies seeking a compound for rent, or Expat tenants only.

Please e-mail us for further info.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 3 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thanks for leaving your info Mustashar, if anyone wants information on your villa in Jeddah then they can email me and I will pass on your details. (Use the link to my profile top right)

Sikandar 2 years ago

If anybody is looking for best Western Compound in (North Riyadh) with all kind of facilities. Then Don't hesitate to call me on my mobile 059 77 21 361 or email me @

iwarmbro 2 years ago

Hi LeanMan, do you know of any good expat apartments in or around Riyadh?

iwarmbro 2 years ago

For a young, single guy that is.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 2 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi iwarmbro,

Just cruise around neighborhoods you like and look for either for rent signs or for apartments that do not have fitted aircon units (usually vacant) then talk to the guards on those buildings. It is usually quite easy to find somewhere even for an expat.

Admin 2 years ago

Villa Palma Compound

(The Perfect Neighbourhood...)


Andy 2 years ago

Spent 7 years at raytheon compound as my father worked there. I was in early teens and let me tell you ... quite a ride I had there :) I made lots of friends off the compound (saudi's) and spent my time partying just about every day. This is a very strict country with very different culture but I think I smoked more Hash/Thai Stick/Brown Sugar there than anywhere in my entire life.... What I would say is, watch out as it is easy to fall into the party trap (I saw many other adults my dad worked with fall into this same trap) and find yourself in deep water.

I managed to never get caught up with police but totally trashed my life in the drug scene. Things can get pretty boring as people mentioned and it leaves room for lots of partying since there is nothing else to do. Let me tell you if you get caught with drugs or alcohol it can be brutal. I had many friends that did and even one that died......

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 2 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Thanks for your comments Andy, the Saudi compounds really are like holiday camps with just about everything you think you need available... so many people will just sit there and drink themselves stupid every night and as you say some will hit the drugs also. Partying off compound is often far worse but you have to have local friends more often than not. I don't recommend it at all - stay inside the rules and earn your money.

the lion heart 2 years ago

You and agree with you you are scum and selfless known to come to my country and you do high salaries and your complete privacy and are Maamatkm best treatment but you are the same cats eat and deny the same dogs bite the hand that feed it tarnishes the country which Agntek of hunger and harm to the people of the Holy hospitable words this racist because you Terbeetm racism in your country if you do not like the habits of this country, you can leave, we respect religions and respect the customs of the people because it is something of its own On the other hand, you respect our customs you mockery of the daughters of Muslims and our habits to maintain We do not allow our women Baltberg and nudity and do not allow relations forbidden because they bring crimes proportion of AIDS large with you because relations Forbidden bass indecent for women Calceaj that surrounds the garden and the garden without a fence enter and have intercourse with her feet all of the passes by a pimp is only allowing his wife and daughters to freedom of movement between men and striptease in front of strangers than men, but in our society women Aajalsha Sawa her husband and become uncovered charms Sawa to her husband in contrast, the man it to be true to the seeking for women outside the home and do not betray his wife that her husband got a foot in obedience and chastity for men and did not allow strangers to approach her all the monotheistic religions sanctity of adultery and betrayal

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 2 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Well "The Lion Heart".

Reading what you have written I am not sure what to say as you are obviously describing some mythical land as the Saudi Arabia I know is nothing like you describe; I see Saudi woman being dropped off at the hospital gym to be picked up 10 minutes later by a different man. I see Saudi women flirting with people in the Malls. I see Saudi men having alcohol and drug fueled parties with women of all nationalities and many other things that you claim don't happen..

Just go and sit on the Bridge to Bahrain at the weekend and count the Saudi Men that are traveling over! They are not going there for the scenery!

Most Western women stay on the compounds and are afraid to come out - why - because they are afraid of you Saudi men as you do not behave well to women!

I suggest that you drag your head out of the sand where you have buried it and take an actual look at your own society to see what really happens rather than accusing others of things that are actually worse in your own country..

djvxxx 2 years ago

Hi LeanMan,

Very interesting forum, really.

I've worked myself in Saudi and lived in Riyadh for about 5 years between 2008 and 2013 (under a 5-yr contract...). Naturally, I lived (with my wife) in one of the better residential compounds (Kingdom Compound) and it turned out to be quite OK...

I'm now about to ''return'' to the Kingdom (for everybody's reasons), but that will have to be in the Dammam/Khobar area this time...

Can you tell me what are the better western compounds there so I can start looking around ?

Also, my wife is French and she'd like to know whether there is any significant ''contingent'' of French expat families there similar to what she had successfully found in Riyadh...

Thanks for any useful info you can share...


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 2 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi djvxxx,

I don't have personal experience of the compounds there in Dammam / Al-Khobar having only stayed in hotels in that area. But from what I have heard they are better than Riyadh although there is not one that I can specifically recommend without knowledge. As to French there were a significant number in Jeddah also where I spent most of my time after a year in Riyadh so I would guess that there would be in the north also. Certainly there were a couple of French and Dutch guys in the last company I worked with there.

aqsa 2 years ago

Hello guys!Awesome blog keep it up!! want to share my experience with you If you are looking for an apartment or room wants to rent out your place , you might want to check out PlaceMatch Singapore. Posting an ad is Free and I found it to be useful in finding my place.

Hope that helps

Cheers, Aqsa Rao

Evelien 2 years ago

HI LeanMan,

My family, 2 young kids(6 and 4 years old) my husband and I are thinking moving to Dharhan for a couple of years. My question is if there in the compounds good aducation or must my kids off the compound for good aducation? We live in the Netherlands but do you know if my children learn only English or also dutch because that's our mother tonque? Thanks for your great info.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 2 years ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Evelien

I am not personally familiar with the individual compounds in Dharhan. Most of the schools are off the compounds and your children will be bussed there or you will take them. There are many different schools available, however I would drop a line to your own embassy there and ask them if there are any that offer teaching in Dutch.

Mikeyb513 23 months ago

Hello LeanMan,

Great post, I am glad I found you. I have an interview with Aramco in a few weeks and so I have been trying to do as much research about living in Saudi Arabia as possible. My main concern is being an American and living in Saudi Arabia. I am a pale skin Caucasian and am worried about being singled out/kidnapped/harassed, etc.

Could you possibly shed some light on this concern for my safety?

Also I am single and wondering about single women in the compounds, you say there might be single nurses and other professional women?

Any help advice would be appreciated

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 23 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Mikey

Saudi is a pretty relaxed place in reality and you will be on the whole pretty much ignored in the malls etc by the locals as long as you are not breaking any of their many rules. I lived off compound and I never felt in anyway threatened anywhere I went. I did however know many westerners (mainly American) who would pretty much spend all of their time on compound and would only leave to travel to their workplace because they were so paranoid about their safety.

Aramco is a pretty good company to work for and you will find a pretty mixed bunch there.

On mixed / family compounds you will find very few single women if any! Most of the women will be the wives or daughters of other expats and that really is a risk not worth taking in a small space - especially when their morality laws are so tight you could find yourself locked up in prison.

Single women do get invited to the various parties however, but they will generally be living in women only compounds or villas.

Michael 22 months ago

Hi Leanman. Just found this site and have learned a lot in the last ten mins. I have just secured a job on a massive development in Riyadh for a company called J & P Contractors. Do you know anything about them and could you tell me which compound they put their staff too? Thanks.

new2 22 months ago

I've been in Riyadh for a couple of weeks and am struggling to meet people from compounds. Can you recommend any forums? Keen to connect with people whilst I am here.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 22 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Michael,

I don't know the company personally nor do I know which of the compounds that they will house their workers in within Riyadh. You could always try to contact some of the other workers there or even ask your contact there.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 22 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi New2,

I have never been someone that used forums or chat groups. Try Facebook as there are several expat groups there based around Saudi.

Alaa Bajiber 22 months ago

Hi mate,

I am a Saudi citizen and i was wondering if i could rent in westeners compound in Jeddah? My wife is Spanish from Barcelona and she'll join me in jeddah in few months and we decided to live in a compound so she can handle the big change form living in New Zealand and Spain to a big different life style in Saudi!!

Btw i aslo wonder if there is any type of language exchange events in Jeddah so I could meet some expats to know what compound could be good for us, as well as making some friends before my wife arrives!

Thx for your help

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 22 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Alaa

Most of the compounds that I know will not allow Saudis to rent to ensure that there are no issues with expats offending them. However there is nothing to stop you traveling around the different expat compounds in Jeddah to see if you can find one that will accept you. Although I think that you will have some issues even finding a vacancy.

I think your best bet however is probably Saudia city which is mainly for the airline but they do rent our to some others and of course it is one of the few that houses Saudi staff as well as other nationalities; some of the apartments are a little run down but there are still some good properties to find on there.

ZM 21 months ago

Hi Lean - I have a job offer in Riyadh and the company will pay me SAR170,000 / yr for accommodation. What would this housing allowance get me in a western compound? And how long a wait one typically goes through these days to get accommodation in a western compound? Thanks!

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 21 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi ZM that is a healthy housing allowance and will easily fund a 3 or 4 bed villa on most of the compounds in Riyadh. Finding a vacancy is usually the hard bit. Ask the HR dept of your company if they have any contacts - it is usually who you know when it comes to getting what you need in Saudi.

Darcydog 21 months ago

hey lean man!

I've just been offered a position 'tentatively' in Tabuk, I'd be looking to take the misses can you recommend any sites or pass on a bit of what it's like to set her mind at ease!

wezz 21 months ago

Hi there.

I'm planning to start a business inside one of the compound in Riyadh. The original idea was a beauty salon but I need to expand the business to provide more services.

What you think that is really needed inside compounds? Let's say a travel agent ? Any ideas?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 21 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Darcydog;

Have a look at this hub which will give you a good overview of just about everything. It has links to all of my different hubs here about being in Saudi Arabia.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 21 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Wezz,

On the Saudi compounds that I have been on the beauty salons have always been quite busy with people also socializing there as people have their "treatments" done. So I would ensure that you can serve coffee and cakes...

Boyo 19 months ago

Like previous post by Michael I have the opportunity of working for J&P Contractors on a large construction site as an engineer. They provide accommodation, but I am worried what it will be like.

Generally, is it a 5 or a 6 day working week and are the working days long? (In Kuwait some years back it was 6 days from 6am to 6pm). Although the money is good, if it was all work and any spare time spent in a lonely grubby compound then perhaps I should not come. Would Doha be better conditions generally, even if more expensive?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 19 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Boyo,

The best thing to do would be to try to contact others that are working on the specific site that you are going to be working on as conditions can vary considerably even when working for one company over several sites. Typically it will be a 6 day week but hours will depend very much on your contract, the employer and of course your own personal commitment to the job. Compounds in Saudi do vary considerably but like anywhere if you are not happy sitting in your home make some friends and go out visiting. I would often be attending parties and events on other compounds if I were not doing something on my own.

Hugo 19 months ago

do you please can tell me witch compound are used by the National Guard hospital in riahd to single men health care professionals? Is it nice and secure?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 19 months ago from At the Gemba Author

You will have to ask your sponsor as to where you will be housed specifically. However most compounds are very secure and guarded well. If you want to know about the compound that they will use ask them for a contact that is living within the compound that you can talk with.

Hugo 19 months ago

Thanks for your answer. One more question, do you think that's secure for a European single man to work and live nowadays in south arabia.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 19 months ago from At the Gemba Author

I think that the country is in many ways safer than most places in Europe. But like anywhere in the world there are places that you don't go and there are things that you don't do if you don't want to upset the people there. Follow their rules and culture and you will be fine there in Saudi Arabia.

As to security on the compounds they are heavily guarded and you will be fine there.

Saudi lady 19 months ago

As I can see from your replies that you are panic from facing a new life! First of all, I would like to thank you for participating in building my ccountry. Secondly, life is difficult and different everywhere. You see hings here as restrict rules but to us its normal because we have our own life and social activities. I can see the same thing happened to Saudi when they travel abroad. Although life there is ( pretty wild and open) but they still not feeling secure, happy or pleasurable. Its a matter of life style that you are used to live. Its not about gaps btween cultures. You can live in Saudi and be happy. That experience here where you are only prisoned teach you or open your eyes to different things. If you can't love yourself then how can you be happy!

I have an expat friend. Yes I can't meet him , I can't visit him but we talk daily. He's nice, he hardly understand that sex is illegal here ( especially with saudi women) and he complained about living lonely in Saudi. So he travels to Bahrain or UAE during the weekend to have more freedom their. He returns back with crazy stories and he keeps telling me all that. His friendship is one of the greatest thing but its hard to understand western mentality! !

So just enjoy your trip as much as you could ♥♥♥

Khalid 15 months ago

Al Nakhla Residential Resort (new 2015) 100% western

Facebook: Al Nakhla Residential Resort

Ranked #1 in all aspects from security to facilities

Experience Riyadh in a luxurious resort setting ... Welcome to Al Nakhla Residential Resort. Situated at Exit 8 with an easy access from Dammam and Airport roads away from Riyadh’ traffic yet within few steps from major shopping malls, International schools, business offices, main government facilities and linked into Al Nakhla Plaza which gives our residents the luxury of being able to go shopping and dine out without the need for transport. The resort has 23 pools around it with a stunning state of Art Gym and a luxurious Ladies & Men SPA with treatments that suits your body & Soul. An impressive lobby overlooking the Central Park will welcome you with various services such as Majdool Int'l restaurant, Costa Cafe and many other outlets and amenities. Al Nakhla Residential Resort is a new concept up-scale life style in Riyadh. It’s simply Everything You Want It to Be..

Hana 13 months ago


I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful blog....and to let you know, we are a western family living off compound :)

We are an American family with 2 children, never lived or seen a compound in Jeddah but we rented a 4 bedroom 4 bath Apartment with a very a huge balcony (for the kids to ride their bikes) and we are very happy with it. We have a security code to enter our building (6 floors) elevator and trash chute...The only downside is no we pay for a pool/beach membership at one of the resorts.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 13 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Hana,

Glad that you are enjoying Jeddah, I loved it there and enjoyed my apartment also. Although I did not have kids while I was there.

yabby 12 months ago

hello Lean man i am shifting to riyad next week , i am single (bachelor) i have no friends and family there. i will be staying off compound , Do i get entry for compounds social gatherings .. Parties?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 12 months ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Yabby,

Entry onto any compound is by invitation so you will need to get yourself invited by the people that live on the compounds.

saudia_sam 7 months ago

six years in Jeddah working for Saudia, this was back in the 70's.

Would love to revisit to see the changes at Saudia City now!

Ectasy 3 months ago

I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful blog....and to let you know, I am Single - Indian living off compound.

I moved to Dammam last year . I enjoyed full freedom at my home country without any worries.

Here, really finding it difficult even to talk to any stranger.Making any sort of relation is far more difficult.

bobby fife 2 months ago

Is it true that there are third county nationals (young ladies) that have access to the compounds because they have 'work' visas and can help with services?

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 8 weeks ago from At the Gemba Author

Bobby; In theory the only people that can access the compounds are the people that live and work there and invited guests. Single females should not be allowed on at all no matter what visas they have. That being said there are some that have arrangements with the compounds to come on and work as maids etc even though it is strictly illegal. I have also seen several girls sharing accommodation and offering help within the compound to single guys.

Ray 5 weeks ago

"Most" westerners do not live in compounds in Saudi Arabia. Only a few do.

Ghausi 5 weeks ago

Hi LeanMan , Thanks for your valuable information & Appreciate your munificence towards help seeker.

Dear friend this is first time I am coming to work in Dammam. My office is located at Prince Sultan Road,Delmon Building ,P.O. Box 172, Dammam 31411 can you guide me which is best residential place in vicinity . Also can you guide me is there any swimming pool club in the vicinity. Please help with your input & advise me. And Incase I have to travel to bahrain every weekend what procedure i need to follow.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 4 weeks ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Ghuasi,

I am not familiar with the location personally, so you will have to go out and look or ask your employer or sponsor. As to going to Bahrain you just drive over the bridge - but you will need to have a valid exit and re-entry visa which will be issued by your sponsor if they allow you.

azfii 34 hours ago

tell me where can i get compund flat near to King Fahad Highway.and can i bring girls in saudi like in duabi

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 20 hours ago from At the Gemba Author

Hi Azfii,

There are instructions above for looking for a flat, feel free to read them. As to bringing girls there the rules in Saudi are very strict; if you are caught with a girl that is not your wife or blood relative then you can be in some very serious trouble. So bringing girls to your apartment could get you deported or worse.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article