Expats moving to Jeddah are most commonly housed in compounds. Some consist of just a few houses and others are like villages with numerous villas, apartments and shared amenities.

There tends to be more freedom for expats in the compounds, where they often live far removed from the restrictive rules governing everyday life in Saudi Arabia. Women don’t need to cover up and expats at larger compounds can socialise at facilities such as shops, sports grounds, swimming pools, parks, restaurants and daycare centres. Staying at some of the more exclusive compounds in Jeddah can even be likened to living in a holiday complex.

Types of accommodation in Jeddah

Accommodation in Jeddah is typically expensive due to high demand and limited supply. Housing allowances are a fairly standard part of Saudi employment contracts and may include a specific amount, a percentage of the employee’s salary or, in the case of larger employers, even the provision of a property. Rental agreements are often between the employer and the compound.

Compound housing in Jeddah tends to be fully furnished. However, it is possible to find unfurnished accommodation at slightly lower prices. For a bit extra, expats who prefer to travel light can also arrange a 'soft package' which includes bedding, towels, cutlery and crockery. Otherwise, numerous shops sell good-quality household items.

Ultimately, expats could ship all their furniture to create a home away from home, though this is a significant expense. Moving with personal items only and living with what the compound provides is what most expats do.

Expats who are hired to work in Jeddah on lucrative employment packages will usually find that their accommodation needs are well taken care of and they are either provided with fully-furnished housing or are given a sizeable shipping allowance to help them bring their personal goods to Saudi Arabia.

Finding accommodation in Jeddah

Demand for compound housing in Jeddah considerably outstrips supply, so finding the right home can take some time. When choosing a compound, expats should think about the location and general lifestyle, rather than just the house itself – the livability of a fantastic property is greatly diminished in the wrong location. It’s also worth bearing in mind that it's easier to change houses within a compound once expats have moved in, than it is to move from one compound to another.

Information about compounds in Jeddah is available online through individual property websites and listings. But many companies don’t update their sites regularly, and expats shouldn’t be surprised to find outdated images and information. Most people get advice from work colleagues and other expats once they arrive in Saudi Arabia.

Luckily, the majority of expats moving to Jeddah have the hassle of finding a suitable compound taken care of as employers usually arrange expat accommodation prior to their employees moving to Saudi Arabia. In most cases, expats are housed in close proximity to colleagues and other foreigners, which makes the transition into expat life in Jeddah much smoother. 

Renting accommodation in Jeddah

Compound contracts tend to be on a rolling annual basis with rent paid at the start of each year or every six months. Deposits are usually around 10 percent of the annual rent. Electricity, water and internet normally cost extra; service charges are usually included, while the compound is responsible for maintaining the property.

Any necessary changes to the property should be done during the process of contract negotiation. Most properties are repainted when tenants move out, but fixtures and fittings can be worse for wear. It’s best to have any changes made before moving in.