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Riyadh



What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There is U.S. embassy-owned housing, which is comfortable and well-maintained (although very oddly configured), with most of the comforts of home.

There is also embassy-leased housing, which is in general shoddily constructed, poorly maintained, and almost totally lacking in storage space except for some kitchen cabinets and small closets, so people are often forced to purchase furnishings like bathroom vanities, medicine cabinets, kitchen and bathroom shelving, storage closets and such themselves. Embassy-leased housing can also be subject to flooding and sewage problems. Newer units lack wired telephones, Internet connections and cell phone coverage (and no hope for any of that for a while, at least while we were at post).

Some of the older leased houses are quite nice -- like ours -- but still have serious problems concerning water storage and the lack of any kind of cool water in hot weather. If you're coming to post and have a choice, I would say go for embassy-owned housing, and definitely try to avoid the newer leased units -- life will be quite difficult in them until they're "broken in."

Most housing is fairly close to the embassy, except for the very newest units, which are in the middle of nowhere. - Oct 13, 2017


We have one of the enormous, pretty old, USG-owned houses that's about a 10-minute walk from the embassy and a few blocks from the Wadi Trail. I will stress that it's quite outdated and hasn't been kept up too well aesthetically BUT is of sound construction and uses 110 electricity. Plus we have five bedrooms for all our visitors (ha!) (Although actually we did have a few visitors.) Other houses are smaller and also owned by the USG (funky layout; way funky) and others are leased and farther from the embassy (20-30 min walk) but new (still with some issues, o'course!) and more modern and very nice-looking. Most are very large. - Jan 19, 2017
Very nice, spacious, comfortable houses in the Diplomatic Quarter. The GSO responded very quickly and efficiently to all maintenance requests, especially if the A/C broke down, which happened only twice in my two-year stay. In each case they came within hours. And since there were two huge central A/C units in the house, one for the downstairs and one for the upstairs, and there was good air circulation through an indoor atrium, I was never seriously inconvenienced. - May 20, 2016
Compound life. I was able to move into a brand new 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath villa with large sala and dining room, pantry, and laundry room. Very nice private compound rented out by MoNGHA for us. - Nov 9, 2015
Big houses, Arabic style, no storage, no walk-in closets, poorly built and finished. Pipes are leaking, electricity is causing problems, etc. But it is close to the embassy in the Diplomatic Quarter. Some housing is within walking distance, and some requires driving, up to a 15-minute drive. - Oct 27, 2015
Large townhouses. 5 minute walk to work. Meetings outside the DQ can take more than an hour to get to because of constant heavy traffic. - Oct 15, 2015
In the diplomatic quarters commute is minimal if you work at an Embassy within the quarter, but if you work out in the city you could have a 30-45 minutes commute due to traffic. There are good roads. Housing can be decent sized villas or apartments. Many are old and need work. Many new ones have finishing issues. U.S. Embassy has mostly old units that are getting grungy and need to be redone. Many have awkward layouts. I have a newer townhouse that is really nice. - Jan 23, 2015
Houses/duplexes. Reliable A/C. Government owned are in better shape than rented spaces. Mixed; some luck in what you get on your timing. - Sep 28, 2014
There is embassy-owned housing, which is comfortable and well-maintained, with most of the comforts of home, and embassy-leased housing, which is in general shoddy construction, difficult to get the Saudi landlord to maintain, having an almost total lack of storage space except for some kitchen cabinets and small closets (so people are forced to purchase furnishings like bathroom vanities, medicine cabinets, kitchen and bathroom shelving, storage closets and such themselves), subject to flooding and sewage problems, and with the newer units lacking wired telephones, Internet connections and cell phone coverage (and no hope for any of that in the near future). Some of the older leased houses are quite nice but still have serious problems concerning water storage and the lack of any kind of cool water in hot weather. If you're coming and have a choice, I would say go for embassy-owned housing, and definitely try to avoid the newer units -- life will be quite difficult in them. Most housing is fairly close to the Embassy, except for the very newest units, which are in the middle of nowhere. - Mar 26, 2014
American Embassy personnel are assigned to the Diplomatic Quarter. Housing there consists of apartments, townhome-style residences, stand-alone homes. Many of the homes are both 110/220 volt. Commute from the further location to the American Embassy is not much more than 10 minutes. - Dec 4, 2013
Most expats live on gated compounds; many provide amenities such as gyms, restaurants, and a pool. - Oct 9, 2013
Most westerners live on housing compounds, most of which are 30-45 minutes' drive from the city. Most diplomats live in the DQ, which is about 15 minutes from town. - Mar 17, 2013
Housing in the Diplomatic Quarter varies. There are bowling-alley-type duplexes and single-family homes. The commute time to the embassy is 5 minutes at most. There are numerous western compounds that each have their own culture, housing and amenities. Housing is at a premium these days, so check with your company early about your options. - Apr 7, 2011
Houses, apartments and townhouses are available. Housing is usually rather spacious. - Jul 27, 2010
I live on the Diplomatic Quarter in US Embassy housing. The housing generally stinks. - Mar 29, 2010
I live in leased housing. It is built to American specs, but there are constant problems. - Jan 18, 2010
Embassy housing is on the Diplomatic Quarter (DQ), large and very nice but bland. The walls and carpets are the same color as the sand-and-blast walls outside. I walked to work, as did a lot of other Embassy staff. - Dec 29, 2009
USG housing is all located on the diplomatic quarter, which is very nice and large. A lot of security, but because the security is Saudi military and police, I never trusted it as they were sleeping most often or only concerned with women/alcohol and not threat issues. - Oct 21, 2008
On the diplomatic quarter, housing consists of large townhomes with small cement patios, most poeple can walk to work. - Aug 6, 2008