An Expats Comprehensive Relocation Guide: Jeddah

An Expats Comprehensive Relocation Guide: Jeddah

With such a large amount of the world’s global oil supply, it is no surprise The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s key industry is oil. However, they have tried to diversify their investment away from the oil industry to help drive economic growth in other sectors, stabilizing the economy and reducing its dependency on oil (especially in times we see ourselves in where the price dramatically drops). This has created job opportunities in many industries for expatriate workers.

Job Opportunities

Jeddah, as a port city, has long been a trading hub in the region. Combined with the fact that all of the capitals of the Middle East and North Africa are within a two hours flying distance, Jeddah is regularly recognized as the second largest commercial center in the Middle East, only behind Dubai. Opportunities, therefore, can be found across many industries, such as:

  • Telecommunications
  • Logistics
  • Banking/finance
  • Food processing
  • Energy

Income Tax Rates

There is no personal income tax in Saudi Arabia. Expatriates, however, should anticipate a flat income tax rate of 20% to be applied to their tax-adjusted profits.

Visa Information

In order to be granted a visa for an extended stay in Saudi Arabia, you will be required to be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months or the entire period of your stay. The passport must have two blank visa pages facing each other.

It is important to note that if your passport in any way indicates that you have recently visited Israel, you might be refused a visa to enter the country. 

Costs of Living

The cost of living in the Kingdom currently places the country middle of the road globally. Regionally speaking, Saudi Arabian cities generally rank cheaper than most Middle Eastern cities in terms of international cost of living surveys. Along with Riyadh, Jeddah is regarded as one of the cheapest cities in the region to live in.

Considering that housing and transportation costs are typically incorporated into an expat’s salary package, very little money needs to be spent to live here. Further, goods such as tobacco, groceries, and electronics are all generally cheap due to lower import duties and the lack of taxation.

Lifestyle Synopsis

Saudi Arabia is a deeply conservative Islamic state. The religion dominates all aspects of life in the Kingdom. Many expatriates will discover that many of the liberties they enjoyed back home are highly regulated. However, as opposed to the rest of the country, the Saudi religious police appear to turn a blind eye to many of the activities in Jeddah. You’ll find plenty of house parties and more “western” activities than what can be found in other locales. Many Saudis consider Jeddah Saudis far more liberal.

An expat’s feeling of culture shock can also be tempered if living among the expat community within a Western compound. Many Western franchises thrive here, and satellite television is easily obtainable to watch the same entertainment seen in one’s homeland.

Expat Community

Jeddah is one of the premier cities in Saudi Arabia for expats to live in. Firstly, it is full of foreigners. Some of the most prominent expat groups include those from India, Pakistan, and Egypt. There is also a more significant western expat community in Jeddah relative to the rest of the nation, with a sizeable community of Americans, Germans, and British.

Private Schooling Fees

Foreign children are not allowed to attend local public schools. There are, however, a number of international schools in Jeddah that offer diverse curricula. Fees can range from the frighteningly pricey American and British international schools (estimated at US$ 20,000 annually) to the more affordable but less prestigious options (US$2,500 per year).

In addition to basic fees, parents will be expected to cover other costs such as uniforms, text books and extracurricular functions which are similarly very cheap compared to other European and American costs.


Life in Jeddah can be a life-changing adventure for the aspiring expatriate. For those willing and able to adjust their lifestyle to this unique culture, you can enjoy a rich experience where you can accumulate great wealth and immerse yourself in a new way of life. For those who aren’t willing to adjust several aspects of their lifestyle, Jeddah may become an unenjoyably place. You must undergo self-reflection to fully recognize the potential Jeddah has for you.